Moments that take your breath away

| February 3, 2014

Art evokes a range of feelings and emotions. Anne Fritz, who has spent more than three decades exploring the arts, invites us to allow this emotional experience to happen and thus make our life richer.

Maya Angelou said:  “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.”

Have you been to an art gallery recently? All too often the personal guide gadgets that you hold to your ear explain the provenance of the painting, describe it in detail (as if you were not looking at it just then) and add information about the time and life of the painter, about the art movement to which it belongs or which it challenges…. nice, historical, material stuff. But if you are not an art buff, what does that add to your emotional experience of the artwork?

I have spent three and a half decades exploring learning and the arts (and the sciences). In fact, my focus is creating learning experiences (for both children and adults) that explore the world as it is and not while in the straightjacket of the disciplines (which are essential for specialists). In other words, I am a cross-disciplinarian, teaching concepts by combining mathematics and dance, history and music, music and poetry, art and geometry, and so on.

Let me give you an example. Combining visual art and poetry… take a group of primary school children in a gallery of modern art. Let them look at the paintings and sculptures, but not at all of them one after the other; let each child choose one piece and examine it carefully, give them (the child and the art) time to converse with one another; let the child enter the work of art. And then…

Here is a poem that has been thus created:

Claude Monet "The Reader"


I could imagine a girl sitting
In the grass reading and reading
I went up to her I asked
Can I read too, as I continued
Talking. I said, to her you
Will fly with me and


Or you will dream with me when



I like when we turn
Into reading rainbows.

(Poem about Claude Monet’s painting “The Reader”, by Kantina Artison, grade 3)

Do you think that nine year old Kantina will ever forget this painting?

Sometimes children (or adults) visit an art gallery and walk through the galleries one by one dutifully, then declare “I am finished”, not realising that one can never be finished with a display of art. At each viewing, the works provide the viewer with a different range of feelings, different emotions. All one has to do is allow it to happen, and suddenly life is richer.

Things and their possession do not make life worth living – experiences and feelings are the stuff of life, and we ignore them at our peril.



  1. Ronald Forbes

    February 4, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Moments that …

    That experience is a wonderful example of what we can do. We hold the kids prisoner through their best years – why give them anything less? This should (and can) be all of education.

    • Anne Fritz

      Anne Fritz

      February 10, 2014 at 9:21 am


      Hello Ron, I well remember your beautiful book for children "The wind comes". It is important for all children (and adults as well) to feel the wind, to look at the sky, to touch the rain….. to experience nature and to respond to their bodies, and not only be busy with abstractions and introspections and goals.

    • Anne Fritz

      Anne Fritz

      February 10, 2014 at 9:33 am

      more moments

      A Japanese child, aged 10, wrote the following: Tears When I cry there is a festival in my heart. There are lots of drums and the gods are beating them hard – It echoes inside me and the tears roll out. Matsumoto Kanako, fourth grade. Such depth of feeling, such beautiful expression, such poetry cannot happen without the help of the poetry of the masters; and Japanese children in kindergarten learn one Haiku each day. This practice teaches them to be sensitive to words and to feelings and to expression … their training gives them the power to be not just artists but to be good artists.

  2. Ronald Forbes

    February 15, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Haiku Moments

    Hi Anne. Thanks. Haiku for children? Something we can all practice – happily.