Superheroes and regular guys

I spent the last few days in Washington at the NAEYC conference. I learned a lot from things I saw and did there, most especially my breakfast with the NAEYC Teacher Research steering committee, and Alise Schafer's talk on Saturday.

But what I'd like to tell you now is about an exhibit I went to at the Renwick Gallery, the Smithsonian branch for crafts.While there I saw a screening of the movie Handmade America (which was good) and got to view the exhibit of the Craft Invitational, and the work of artist Mark Newport.

Mark Newport knits superhero costumes. In his exhibit were also comic book panels that show him knitting, with captions along the lines of  "He knew he could help, if he could just finish in time."
I have often worked with boys (and a few girls) who wanted to become superheroes. I believe it is important for children to work out their wonderings about power and their fears about bad things. As an Atelierista, I try to help them figure out how they can achieve some feeling of power. Sometimes that involves becoming a superhero.

Mark Newport's work reflects that desire to become super that so many four and five year olds have.By knitting his costumes he shows the sweetness of the yearning to become a hero, a good guy who can save the world.
That yearning is alive for Abel, Henry and Benjamin, who are looking closely at spiderwebs in order to learn what they need to become spider-men.

Sewing is a powerful tool for boys, who seem to enjoy the process and the equipment and concentration it takes.
Mark Newport's work is a combination
of the male stereotypes that inform our culture, and the idea of nurturing and coziness, which in a way is also what superheroes are about -taking care of the regular guys.  



  1. Holy cow! What a thoughtful, well-written post. This artist is amazing.


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