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ICAF

You know sometimes things happen and you just feel how blessed you can be.
For example when I met Jeremy Cowart during one of the Photoshop Worlds I got involved in the Help Portrait movement and decided to organize this for the Netherlands, being a spokesperson and organizer for the nationwide Help Portrait day was a huge success, and me and my team will do it again this year, it has been an awesome experience. Giving people that really normally can’t afford it a portrait of hope is one of the best feelings you can get as a photographer I think.

 

People that know me, know that I will never steer away from a good cause, and that also landed me the title as ambassador for the Dutch website www.fotoshootklachten.nl, a website in corporation with the justice department where models can find information and help when they have been badly treated by a photographer (believe it or not, before this website there was no real place to turn to with specialistic help/knowledge). And to be honest I feel honored to be able to be the spokesperson for that cause.

 

Last week I was contacted by  Ashfaq Ishaq who is responsible for the ICAF (International Child Art Foundation), after some googling and visiting their site www.ICAF.org I was more than interested to meet with Ashfaq. And tonight we did during a exhibition of children’s art displayed in a store in Georgetown/Washington DC.

 In the store you could find several art pieces made by different schools and children in different grades, one thing they had in common is that it was all made by jeans material (old jeans).

For me it was not only stunning to see these pieces of art, but also to meet the man behind the ICAF and hear his story about what the foundation is doing and what his vision is. Not to my surprise we had a lot of common points of opinion.

Let’s be honest.
We all have one thing in common and is that we were ALL kids once. After this period we all go our separate ways and become different “people” but we all have that one thing in common, and that’s that first education that sets the base for becoming our own unique person.

At the moment a lot of schools are cutting down on education in the art department. And of course math, languages, history etc. are all incredibly important but what sometimes seems to be forgotten is that there would be no invention/innovation without creativity. Of course we need knowledge of technique to build a faster CPU for our computers, but realize that the one who invented the computer was someone that was creative and build/invented something new out of nothing. And this goes for all products in our world, without creativity there would be nothing new, only improvements on the old.

I strongly believe that by taking away the arts education (or cutting it down) in the earliest years of development of our children we are in fact creating a base of development that is maybe great in math and languages but will probably fail in business and inventing new things. If we however keep feeding our kids with creativity, developing challenges we will build a base on which the children learn to become more flexible and creative.

Now some of you might think that we don’t need a whole generation of painters, poets, photographers etc. but do realize that this is not the case of course. Take for example business, without creativity you will with almost 100% certainty fail within the first year of business (or even sooner), in fact the whole being a human kind of thing thrives on our creativity as a species, take away our creativity and the whole civilization we know will probably crumble down in a few generations, where we have a lot of really smart people but too little people that can really shape up new things. And remember the creativity is something we are born with, look at a baby and young children playing, it’s already there, but often it’s lost in their development in becoming “grownups”, while in fact by just motivating them it can be boosted and shaped into something that will benefit our children for their whole life.

And yes of course, there will always be “those creative ones”, the ones that are born with the genes of creativity and that will what ever the costs become great inventors, artists etc. But we can’t rely on just that fact alone. When cutting down on teaching the children at their youngest age about art and creativity we are in fact limiting the group that will develop these skills in the future and again they are in my opinion very important.

When I look at myself, I was raised in a family where my creativity was boosted, if I wanted to listen to rock music I was allowed (of course) but only if I also listened to some classical music, I wanted to learn electric guitar, that was no problem but I also had to be able to play some keyboard first etc. My parents wanted me to have a very broad interest base, at a young age I did not get the importance of this that well but I obeyed (no choice actually and it was not bad), later in life I really had a great advantage with this, I was able to mix and match certain elements to solve problems/challenges I encountered in both business as in my own art (photography) just by also having a knowledge about the opposite of what I liked (and with that automatically an appreciating was build of course). I love for example Queen and when you look closely at this band part of their huge success is the mixing and matching of many different styles, and remember that ALL their members were very smart people with high educations, but also incredibly creative.

In closing (don’t want to keep you too long), I strongly and I really mean (STRONGLY) believe that children should be motivated to develop creativity, and this can be done in many many ways, they have to be able to let their vision come out in any way possible. As you can see in the images posted here some amazing art is created that should actually be on exhibit in a museum/gallery and viewed by many more people than I saw tonight.

 

The ICAF is a foundation that does exactly this, and as mentioned at the start of this blogpost I’m feeling incredibly honored and blessed that I was asked to help the foundation out with my knowledge as a teacher and “motivator”, and I am more than willing to do exactly that. Make sure to visit their website and share the site with your friends and people that can help out this cause, and do remember…..

 

This is not a cause that benefits only a few members of our society (and believe me I also think those are very important) but, learning children to be creative is shaping our whole society and the core of being human and what makes us the dominant species in our world. If we loose this creativity being human will get a totally different meaning and we really need to cherish this and make sure that our future generations will bring forward great artists like Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Helmut Newton, Andy Warhol, Shakespeare  etc. but also great inventors (talking about being creative).

 

The investment is little more than “triggering”/”stimulating” that, that’s already embedded in our genes and let it develop on it’s own (or with a little help). And that must never be lost, budgeted out etc. In the coming weeks/months I will probably be discussing a lot about what I can do for the ICAF in the Netherlands and I’m sure you will hear a lot more about this. For the time being I hope you enjoyed some of the art I showed in the images in this blog post and hopefully the text also got you thinking, and hopefully if you’re a parent (like me) with a young child this motivated you to also let your child play with it’s creativity (you really can’t start too young).

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  • Frank:  Inspiring post about giving back and supporting great causes.  Thank you for making this your first stop in Washington DC.  I look forward to meeting you at the conference this weekend.

  • Thanks so much for the great article on the exhibit, Frank! You really captured the essence of the event and we’re very appreciative of that. And what great pics – hope to have you on board for more! Best, Christina (from ICAF)

  • Natalie1teacher

    The “Sid” one is the coolest!!!

  • Dodikt

    Great Innovation….