“I don’t get it. We’re just walking on floor.” My daughter’s initial reaction to the “Walking on Air” installation at the Walker Art Center last Saturday was quite literal. I heard another little girl nearby echo the sentiment as we stood inside a hot air balloon being inflated by fans.
I looked around the room. “I don’t know. It doesn’t look like a regular room with a regular floor. What does it look like to you?” I suggested a new perspective, and a world opened up. In that moment, we were sliding on a rainbow right into a hot air balloon. We jumped and jumped to get the balloon to fly, and when we needed to land, we had to be calm and slow. We waltzed around the colorful cavern and practiced yoga poses until we landed safely. It was quite an adventure.
I have to admit, it’s the sort of adventure I don’t have very often. I believe in the importance of imaginative play, but I don’t usually want to participate. I will do almost anything else first. I will read a story, do a craft, or play a game–no matter how boring to me–with my daughter before pretending with her. Frankly, it’s one of those guilty parenting confessions that I hesitate to admit because I do feel kind of terrible about my distaste for pretending. I am probably not going to suddenly change and become the sort of parent who plays house as a first choice, but I am grateful for the reminder that it doesn’t take much for a magical worlds to appear around you. Really–the kid usually does most of the work.
Thank you to the Walker for creating a space for us to play. We also enjoyed the exploration of what art is and isn’t in “The Time Wanderers.” We were inspired to continue talking about the idea with the book Art is… by Bob Raczka. Because finding books to explore interesting ideas is something I can definitely say I am good at as a parent. ;)