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Displaying Artwork For Geniuses

When the boys were little, the amount of papers and artwork they used to bring home from school (not to mention what they produced at home) was ridiculous. I bought a plastic storage container for each of them and put select items in them to save for posterity.

Every now and then, I’d come across something that I didn’t want to put in a time capsule. Of course, I didn’t want it laying around the house, either.

I needed a place where I could look at it whenever I wanted to, but it was out of the way at all other times.

Enter my kitchen cabinets.

The insides of the cabinet doors above my kitchen desk house some of my favorite things created by my boys. Yes, I said “insides”.

One of these things is not like the other...

The left side is full of D’s stuff (except for one piece). There is a paper doll-like self portrait, and there’s a self portrait on which the shirt (which has real buttons glued on) was made by tearing paper instead of cutting it. The rocket ship is from fourth grade, when he had one of his favorite teachers, a woman who had a total obsession with the United States space program (he learned more about space in that one year than a normal kid learns in twelve years).

The haiku is one of my favorites, because D really didn’t like his poetry unit that year and suddenly came up with this amazing thing:

“Sleds can be plastic
Racing down the rock hard hills
The wind whips your face.”

I love the heart, which is partially hidden by a picture of the boys with exotic birds, because HEARTS.

The odd piece in the lot happens to have been drawn by J, who used to draw angry people All. The. Time. Luckily that phase was temporary, but the artwork lives on.

There is one item in this display that makes me giggle each and every time I look at it.

The right side is full of J’s stuff. The ice cream spoon snowman is actually a pin that he made for me one year as a holiday gift. The batik-looking square at the top is so colorful and I loved the technique he used to make it, with crayons and watercolors. The purple flower is very faded now compared to the original color (darn construction paper), but I love the picture of him in the middle of it. The flower at the bottom right, which is partially covered by the truck photo, is embellished with real yarn and is so cool.

The photo in the bottom left was taken during a scout outing that I had to miss (a friend who worked at the stable took the picture for me). Next to the photo is a positive write-up he received from a teacher when he was a freshman.

Above that? My favorite piece, from April 2002, when J was seven. One morning I had a discussion with J in which I told him that he needed to remind his best friend Michael that he was going to his house after school because I wasn’t going to be home, and between the two of them, they would remember that they had to buddy up. I suggested that he write himself a note so he wouldn’t forget to pass on the message, and I found this in his backpack that evening, scrawled in his neatest handwriting on a post-it note from some prescription drug rep:

“Remind Michael that you are going to his house today.
With love from Milisa.”

I MEAN SERIOUSLY, is that not the cutest thing ever???

M-I-L-I-S-A.

The boxes of papers and artwork that I keep in my closet are full of other great treasures, and maybe I should rotate some of these out, exchanging them for new-old pieces.

Of course, I have a bunch of other cabinets…

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  • Shannon December 14, 2012, 7:14 am

    I love this! My oldest two kids were extremely prolific when it came to artwork. I have stacks and stacks of keepers, and I use the laundry room as a mini art gallery.
    The youngest one, though, she’ll throw her stuff in recycling if you don’t catch it first and put it away somewhere.

  • Sarah Parisi December 14, 2012, 7:16 am

    Fantastic idea! We’re nearly drowning in artwork from my 5-year-old so I’m definitely going to try this.

  • Tara R. December 14, 2012, 10:25 am

    This is a great idea. It would be like opening a time capsule every time you open the cabinets.

  • tracey December 16, 2012, 9:08 am

    :) I save so much, too. And I love that spelling. Can I call you that, now?