From the mouths of babes

North Kitsap Herald, by Bronsyn Springer – Mar 07 2007

A hazard in growing up is seeing the world through a haze of clutter. Experience may bring wisdom but it also fosters our biases, prejudices, and preconceived ideas about the world around us. Children who haven’t yet learned how they “should” feel or think retain an innocence and instinct capable of teaching that wisdom doesn’t always come from experience and sometimes the best way to learn is to slow down and look at the world through new eyes. “The Picture Project” is an educational art program striving to accomplish exactly that.

“The Picture Project” began as a seed in the garden of founder Fred Nicholson’s brain. Nicholson, a Hansville artist, was manager of the Jewel Box Theatre’s gallery space in 2001 when he envisioned an exhibit of children’s art under the theme, “My Family.” He contacted Kitsap elementary schools and found great support from teachers who passed the project onto their students. The result was 200 “family” pictures decorating the walls of the Jewel Box gallery.

The success of the show inspired Nicholson to pursue a second project. Again, he contacted teachers, this time with the theme, “Peace Looks Like This.” The project was embraced by even more students and in a time when much of the media was immersed in war, he had 250 expressions of peace gracing the gallery walls.

Steve Stolee of Bainbridge Island met Nicholson through a mutual theater project and Nicholson asked Stolee, a photographer, to shoot photos of the exhibit before it had to be removed. After seeing the children’s art, Stolee expressed an interest in creating a documentary about “Peace Looks Like This” letting the children describe their projects on film. Once again the teachers were approached and met the idea with enthusiasm. “Peace Looks Like This” the documentary was completed in 2003 and shown at the Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival in 2005.

Stolee and Nicholson drew the attention of a third partner, Mary Granfors, an island resident with experience in documentary filmmaking and non-profit organizations.

She tightened the nuts and bolts of the organization pairing art with administration.

Now the trio is premiering The Picture Project’s second documentary, “My World of White, Black and Color” at this year’s Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival. The project continues to grow as Nicholson received 900 creations from children 6-13 under the recent theme.

Nicholson sees “The Picture Project” as a learning tool for adults via the artistic medium of children.

“I want to develop fun, creative and innovative projects that enable our kids to be seen and heard,” said Nicholson.

“This would never have happened without everyone on board adding different facets to the project. . . angel helpers,” he added.

“My World of White, Black and Color” features children from several Kitsap County school districts presenting ideas through their artwork and can be seen at 1:45 p.m. Sunday at the Lynnwood Theater on Bainbridge Island as part of the Celluloid Bainbridge Film Festival.

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