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September 28, 2013

Josh Drespling: The fridge makes a pretty cool child’s art gallery

NEW CASTLE — In most every home in America there stands a great monument to the art of our children and/or grandchildren. It doubles as a giant box for storing food and keeping things cold, or perhaps even frozen.

The functionality of this hulking piece of steel and plastic has been overwhelmed with the sentimental and cultural significance of its secondary use. Our refrigerators have become home-grown art galleries for our children’s creative expressions.

We display our children’s creativity with pride for the whole world (or family) to see in a spot that is one of the most frequented areas of the home. It is our good, old-fashioned Facebook. We all feel that our own kids are the next Picasso, Warhol, or even Van Gogh. We have become the jury of our own art galleries, despite our pretenses to let an occasional piece of less-than-stellar macaroni art slip through the selection process.

For a child, the refrigerator gallery is the highest honor they could receive for their work. It is like winning the gold in the Olympics or receiving an award for your music or acting. They are quite proud of the drawings, even though we may see only grossly distorted animals, people, and houses. They have drawn and painted what they know and feel. They have come to view the refrigerator as a showcase for their talents and achievements, and a confirmation that they are important.

 These sacred galleries remind us of the innocence of our child’s mind during our hectic days. Late at night while the house is quiet and you give into the urge to load up on sweet treats, the pieces of artwork are there to greet you. In the first few moments of the day, when you stumble into the kitchen, longing for that initial cup of coffee, they are there welcoming you to the new day.

Many years ago, I drew a mad scientist-doctor kind of character on a scrap piece of paper and gave it to my grandma. I guess I thought the image was fitting because she was in ill health and had been in and out of the hospital more times than I could count. In retrospect, I suppose it was not the image that a person in that condition would want to see, but I thought it was appropriate when I was 11 or 12 years old. Regardless of the connotations, she must have loved it, because that picture hung on the refrigerator in her house for a good part of 10 years. I even remember it hanging on the fridge in the house after she had passed away. I don’t know who eventually took it down, but I could never bring myself to do it.

Maybe my picture was retired (or archived) to a box of cherished items somewhere and is buried in the back of a closet or the attic. I know that is what happens to all the items from our house, because I have boxes full of these cherished expressions of momentary whims and our family’s unique attributes.

Someday after I’m gone, my daughter will dig up those old boxes and hopefully get a glimpse at her own age of innocence.


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