Robert Chambers, artist
Q: My wife and I are expecting, and want to raise our child in a hyper-creative environment that goes beyond ant farms and monthly trips to the museum.
RC: As a former NYU art teacher and father of three children under the age of 2, I have some advice. You, your wife and child are already off to a great start on your journey to creative nirvana. To begin, I would suggest thinking about light arriving to Earth from galaxies billions of years away. Use this as a form of meditation while you prepare to hyper-create your child's universe. It is a process to break the bonds enshrouding your imagination.
Learn to think outside the cube. Expand your imagination and your child will blossom. Train now by studying Eva Hesse, Joseph Beuys, Robert Smithson, Hannah Wilke, Louise Bourgeois, Vito Acconci, Jessica Stockholder, Fischli & Weiss and Beverly Semmes. There is a ton of online info on these artists. Read John Cage's Manifesto. Begin to think like these ''rule breakers'' and you will be able to help your child's mind hyper-develop. Use this four-step program during your child's first year. .
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1. Purchase giant sheets of colored paper and tape them to the ceiling and walls for a few days. Next, begin to remove various squares and cut with scissors in big egg-like shapes. Over a week, replace all squares with egg shapes. Change order and location frequently. This will stimulate the Precambrian in the child specifically and theoretically the Proterozoic eon of Earth's earliest animal history. Read Emotion and Meaning in Music by Leonard B. Meyer.
2. Apply Leonard B. Meyers' concepts of music theory to art projects for the child, such as a dozen large exercise balls in different colors, half deflated and in a state of amorphousness. Flop/roll balls out into room with you hiding behind something in baby's view while singing numbers and colors in various languages. (This might even work wonders on your partner. ) Think about expectation, continuation, saturation and association. Even early word/form stimulation is important. Don't be stymied by ''experts.'' Sing words from books instead of reading out loud. Even if you are not a diva, your child will remember the sound of the nurturing parent and the cadence of the words. Plus, it's fun to sing.
3. Home Depot or similar stores are the new über-Toys 'R' Us. Buy four 20-foot lengths of PVC pipe, an inch in diameter. Have them cut into many lengths of one-, two-, three- and four-foot sections. Buy a few dozen one-inch connectors -- 90-degree, etc.; also, a huge pack of zip ties and Velcro. Now go to the fabric store and purchase one-, two- and three-foot-square pieces of fabric and vinyl. You now have everything you need to make experimental dwellings that you can change every day. Sit inside these morphing structures with your child.
4. Read a paper titled Visual Perception in Karesansui (http://www.mis.atr.jp/~mlyons/pub_pdf/IAEA.pdf). Substitute rocks, sand and water with huge chunks of foam rocks (get custom-cut at foam store), orange safety cones and Astroturf sheets cut into organic island shapes. Assemble into the order of the gardens pictured in the paper and into the natural order of other Karesansui gardens you have researched. Show these ''gardens'' to the baby, but don't expect a reaction. It's all about imprinting an image and feeling. Think about the macro/micro of objects using this paper as a guide. Go to Kinko's and print out 3' by 4' photos of known Karesansui gardens on oversized regular Xerox paper. Place these images on the ceiling above the child. Rotate images. Develop your own creative terms. Your mind will temper with your child's creative development.
Coming Dec. 13: Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon on the art of flirting.