Partner with your child and make some art: The latest 10 x 10 in action

Artist and elementary art educator Sarah Fought takes her two-year-old to Angela M. D. Allen’s new hands-on project/exhibit at 1708 Gallery.

On Tuesday morning, my toddler son, Henry Hollis, and I ventured downtown to 1708 Gallery to take part in this week’s 10 x 10 project/exhibit with Angela M. D. Allen and her daughter, Marita L. Allen.

When we arrived, Angela greeted us warmly and invited us to make ourselves welcome in the bustling gallery space and to start making some art together. Kids of all ages sat and stood along the sides of a long row of tables covered in brown kraft paper, heads bent over their paintings. Parents and caretakers stood nearby to watch, assist, and collaborate. The workshop, the results of which will be on display at 1708 Gallery all week, was meant for both kids and grown ups and is reflective of Allen’s own current process for making art.

Since becoming a mom to Marita (age 4) and Stuart (age 2), Allen has adapted her studio practice dramatically. She describes it as a “loud, messy, dance painting party” with Marita as her primary partner.

Collaborative works by Angela and Marita Allen.

Collaborative works by Angela and Marita Allen.

Typically, the two paint their own pieces and then collaborate on some, if that idea is all right with Marita. Meanwhile, the youngest Allen, Stuart, generally tries to put his marks on the paper with some permanent ink he’s hijacked while Angela checks work emails.

Motherhood is the balancing of a great many precious things. After Allen earned her MFA in painting and got pregnant, she initially saw the two as separate worlds, but now, she’s thankful to have kids who love art. She’s also grateful to 1708 Gallery for allowing her the space and time to combine her two loves!

Angela M. D. Allen, smiling in pink, greets participants and gives feedback during the Tuesday morning workshop.

Angela M. D. Allen, smiling in pink, greets participants and gives feedback during the Tuesday morning workshop.

The walls of the gallery hold the collaborative works on paper created between Angela and her daughter. I walked, holding Henry Hollis on my hip, so that he could see and respond to each of the works.

There aren’t many things quite as fun as picking the brain of a two-year-old. We paused in front of each work so that he could declare the things he saw: a brain, a boat, fish, a bug, and more! What I saw was love and tenderness in these colorful, layered, watery, and dreamy works by a mother/daughter team.


As we painted our own watercolor and ink pieces, I let Henry Hollis lead the way, and I followed along with a little dab of water here and a drip of ink there. He was the meat, I was the potatoes in this process. As a trained painter and an elementary art teacher, I am a person fairly obsessed with the artistic process. As an uninhibited two-year-old, Henry Hollis is too.

I think we made a good team.

Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Angela M. D. Allen has found a way to connect deeply with both her artist and mother self through these collaborations with her young child.

Henry Hollis and I collaborated on this painting that he titled:

Henry Hollis and I collaborated on this painting that he titled: “Monster Truck.”

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View all of the art made at this workshop and during other times throughout the week at a Friday evening reception. July 31st, 5:00 – 7:00 PM at 1708 Gallery, 319 W. Broad Street. Extra credit if you can find “Monster Truck.” More on the 10 x 10 program at 1708 Gallery’s website and in our introductory piece.

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Sarah Fought

Sarah Fought was born in the same state as Bruce Springsteen but has spent all but the first two years of her life living south of the Mason-Dixon line. She practices being in each moment, fully present.

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