Child Prodigies

I’ve noticed a few child art prodigies popping up on the internet lately. Marla Olmstead has been mentioned before on artnewsblog, as the 4 year old art prodigy, and for being featured on 60 Minutes.

child art prodigiesBut there’s also Akiane, the 11 year old internationally known child art prodigy. That’s her pictured on the left, appearing on the Oprah Winfrey show! She also has a list of appearances in the media and articles published that would make a lot of 40 year old artists feel a little under exposed. Some of her radio and television appearances include The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, the Lou Dobbs Show/ CNN, Fox News, Fox Magazine, Late Late Show, KING TV/ CBS, Fox News Rising, Time Warner cable News, KREM NEWS/ CBS and plenty more.

She is an amazing talent for her age and will probably go on to become a much better artist, but I’m still tempted to fall back on a quote by art critic Clement Greenberg: “In visual arts, prodigies don’t count. In music and literature, yes, but not in art.”

I feel like I’m being really negative, but would her works attract this much attention if she was 25 years old? They’re great paintings for an eleven year old, but they don’t have any life experience in them, they’re awkward like youth, and they’re still growing. The attention comes from the novelty of the “child prodigy”. It’s news! But the fact that it’s only news because of the novelty aspect shouldn’t be forgotten.

I’m more impressed by the person behind her marketing. Many artists don’t have the PR skills to get into their local newspaper, while an 11 year old has managed to appear on everything from the Oprah Show through to the Time magazine!. See her Website too. It is set up to sell. It first sell her story, then gives you the option to buy your own piece of history (probably at a very impressive price too.. I couldn’t see the prices published though).

There’s also a “child prodigy” writer by the name of Adora Svitak that has appeared quite a bit in the media. She says that “Reading and writing is my life” and claims to read 2 or 3 books a day.

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.

Comments

  1. Here is the book review I found from this author’s website.http://www.suzannelieurance.comNew – Flying Fingers

    Flying Fingers: Master the Tools of Learning
    Through the Joy of Writing

    Flying Fingers: Master the Tools of Learning Through the Joy of Writing Action Publishing (Glendale, CA ) October 1, 2005 ISBN: 1888045191 $12.95 Reviewed by Suzanne Lieurance

    As a children’s writing instructor myself, it’s not every day that I get writing tips from an 8-year-old, especially GOOD writing tips. But I just finished reading Flying Fingers: Master the Tools of Learning Through the Joy of Writing, which includes tips, stories, and writing activities from its author, Adora Svitak.

    Adora is an 8-year-old girl from Redmond, Washington, who was just 7 when she wrote Flying Fingers, which also includes commentary and coaching advice from her mother, Joyce Svitak.

    After reading this book I realized that many of my adult writing student don’t write as well as Adora. But then, most of these adults don’t write as MUCH as Adora does. In Flying Fingers she explains that she wrote more than 250,000 words (over 300 stories, essays, and poems) in a single year and she continues to write thousands of words of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry every week. Plus, she reads all the time. By her own estimate she’s already devoured more than 1600 books.

    Typing is another skill that Adora mastered early. In fact, she started writing at age 4, when her mother bought her a laptop and she used it to make up stories. Now she types about 60 words per minute. With so many early accomplishments, it’s no wonder Adora has been a guest on Good Morning America and Diane Sawyer calls her “a tiny literary giant.” But although Adora’s skills are truly amazing, she didn’t write Flying Fingers to brag about herself. She wrote it because she is passionate about inspiring other children to become just as accomplished and excited about learning as she is. And her mother says,”With support, encouragement from parents and educators, and the proper use of technology, all children have the potential to excel and enjoy writing and learning as much as Adora does.”

    After reading Flying Fingers, I think she might be right about that – so I hope parents, educators, and children everywhere will get a copy of this book. Then just maybe we can find out.

  2. Children should remain children and not become a commercial product. They have a lifetime ahead of them to become a product or slave, so why not give them their self during childhood?

  3. I feel Adora is good at writing but she should also learn how to be a kid. I can see that she wishes to show other kids that learning is fun, but they should know that their life is still happening. Adora needs to live her life as a child and not be taken to the media. It does have a good effect on how we act when we are older. Although, how would she be able to fit in with kids her age who only want to play with video games? When she gets older into for example, fifth grade, she would feel like an outcast when all the others are under her intelligence level. Most kids will just ignore her passion for them to know more, and they will shun her. They will not accept her concept and she will become an ever burning flame wishing for her peers to feel the same way. She will probably do great things for the world, but it depends if she gets to live her life as a child. Or the innocence of wanting to help others will probably go away. For lack of a normal childhood, she might become a small mature child who would demand things that normal people have never heard of. In other words she would become spoiled. Learning is good but fame and fortune can currupt a mind so pure and innocent.

  4. What is a normal childhood? How many people who have had a normal childhood still become strange and not suitable to the society? How many people who have not had a “normal” childhood but grow up to be the most normal and well adjust adults? Media does have both negative and positive effect on both children and adults, adults are not immune from negative effects of media either. Why is it many people associate wisdom only to people who are adults? Some children have more wisdom and good sense than many of adults. Why do people have to associate the stupidity and mindless playing to a “normal childhood”? if a child enjoys more intellectural activities rather than what “society” says he/she should enjoy, what’s wrong if it’s his/her choice? If he or she is happy for what she/he does.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I agree with “anonymous”. What is a normal childhood? Helen Keller did not have a normal childhood, yet she suceeded in life! Adolf Hitler probably had a normal German childhood, and yet he was one of the most inhuman creatures on earth! Shirley Temple was a child star, with no normal childhood, and now she is an ambassador to represent the United States! I could imagine Adora’s childhood would be fine. People say she’ll have a hard time being friends with people who play video games and other “normal” kids, but who says she will keep company with kids who play video games? Or, if she does, who says they will shun her just because she knows things about writing? Maybe she doesn’t even talk about her entire writing career to them! Just wait and see what she grows up to be.

  6. Have any of the chat-show hosts who had this little girl on their shows asked her to do a quick sketch on camera? I don’t believe she is the painter. Her website looks like a confidence trick inspired by a committee of PR men. And where are the improvements in her work one would expect from any child? She’s been painting the same stuff for the last few years. If she were that good at 8 or 9, she should by Michelangelo by now. I am convinced a second-rate adult artist is behind this so-called prodigy.

  7. I don’t know about Akiane, but Marla Olmstead was featured on 60 Minutes doing some painting. According to some that saw it, they were pretty convinced that her parents were doing the bulk of the painting.
    See some of the comments
    posted here
    .

  8. Anonymous says:

    Eight-year-old internationally published author Adora Svitak tackles hot button issues in her upcoming novel, “Yang in Disguise.”

    Redmond, WA (PRWEB) March 23, 2006 — Eight-year-old author Adora Svitak tackles hot button issues in her upcoming novel, “Yang in Disguise”. Although the novel is set in a fantasy world, the young author says that her antagonist, a greedy and amoral king, is ‘a more toned down version of George W. Bush’. When his son leaves his father’s kingdom to see if he can find a more peaceful solution to his country’s problems, the eight-year-old author uses each land he visits as an opportunity to comment on a number of political and cultural issues, including gay rights, immigration policies, Middle Eastern women’s rights, the environment, vengeance, and nationalism. Svitak, who cites Voltaire’s Candide as an influence, says she wanted to ‘use comedy to keep people thinking’. Svitak’s touch is certainly more comedic than didactic, instead of being obsessed with crude oil, one land her main character visits is engaged in a war over cooking oil.

    Svitak published her first book, “Flying Fingers: Master the Tools of Learning Through the Joy of Writing” at age 7. The second American edition is in the works, and the book has also been published in China, where Svitak is a media sensation. A Korean edition is pending. In addition to “Yang in Disguise”, the author has just finished work on a book of poems, “Dancing Fingers”, which is designed for younger readers and is more whimsical than political in tone.

    ‘I like to keep exploring different genres. My first book was more strictly a collection of fantasy and historical fiction with writing tips,’ Adora says. ‘I watch the news a lot, and it gets me thinking. My goal with “Yang in Disguise” was to create a story that would explain some of my ideas about war and peace, but still be funny to other kids.’

  9. i am a 39 year old artist/painter and i can tell you that upon close inspection, there is no way akiane did all of the painting you are seeing in the finished works .I saw here on tbn and she was asked if she does any priliminary drawing..and she said no she just paints directly??this is fine if your working in an expressionistic genere, but not for portrait work on her site she is looking at a drawing she did ,which looks like a 11 year olds work,while painting a portait of jesus..im sorry you cannot just start painting and hope everything comes out in the right place?? someone should check where her mother went to art school in the Ukraine….no chid of 10 or 11 has the cognitive skills to see a finished portatiat through to the point where these are if she painted them all by herself with NO help i will drink turintine and convert from atheist to a evangelical christian!!

  10. After publishing her first book when she was only seven, Adora Svitak was dubbed a “Tiny Literary Giant” by Diane Sawyer of Good Morning America. For producer Liu Enming, Elaine Lu has the story of this child prodigy.
    Adora Svitak started writing when she was only four. She published her first book Flying Fingers at seven, and authored more than 400 short stories. Flying Fingers was published in four languages for international audiences. Recently she was invited to New York City’s Stony Brook University to speak to aspiring children and their parents at the Charles Wang Center.

    Adora Svitak
    “Hello everybody, I am very glad to be here and I hope you are, too,” she said, introducing herself. “Today I am going to show you a few pictures, slide shows of myself. I am going to talk about writing and reading. This poem I am going to read to you is from my book Flying Fingers, titled ‘Ghost.’”
    Adora Svitak was invited in 2005 to appear on Good Morning America, a popular ABC morning television program, to demonstrate her writing talent. The famous late anchor Peter Jennings was on the set that day, and showed great interest in this literary genius. He even sent her his own history book, The Century for Young People, after learning that little Adora loves history.
    Under the limelight, Adora might be a celebrity surrounded by fame and adoration, but at home, she is just an ordinary little girl who loves to play.
    “Under a night with a starry sky,
    under a night with dark blue up high,
    under the night, they sit together,
    anonymous men, as white as a feather.
    Quietly they lurk around,
    making not a single sound,
    at the stroke of midnight, they all vanish,
    leaving their trail shinning bright.”
    - Adora Svitak excerpt from “Ghost”, in Flying Fingers
    “I discovered [my love of writing] when I was pretty young, maybe 4 or 5. I just felt that sometimes [I had] so many ideas, and I should write them on paper. When I was 6, I got my first laptop. I wrote quite a few stories. My mom was very surprised, because sometimes I wouldn’t go to dinner when I was writing these stories.”
    Adora reads insatiably: more than 2,000 books over the past five years. She says books are like wings for her imagination. “Yes, I love to read and write because it gives me a chance to express myself and I can share my thoughts with others,” she says. “And through reading, I gain knowledge and I have fun, and I can go to other places because books are like wings.”
    Along with being an avid reader, Adora is a self-proclaimed “amateur historian” and a news junkie who often works today’s headlines into her writing.
    “I am going to read you a sample of one of my stories, which is called Yang in Disguise. My two new books are called Yang in Disguise and The Pickpocket Princess,”the girl explains. Yang in Disguise is a political satire of President Bush, because I disapprove of many of his policies.”
    Adora’s mother Joyce Svitak credits dedication and commitment for her daughter’s success. She says, “She might be precocious, and she is intelligent. But I think the most important component of her success is her hard work.”
    Adora enjoys traveling to schools and sharing her love of reading and writing with other children, because it is part of her clear goals for the future. “To inspire other children to read and write, I also hope to make the world a better place. I also want to write more books,” she says.

    hhttp://www.voanews.com/english/2006-12-29-voa26.cfm

  11. Young author aims to inspire students

    9-year-old gives look at creating a story

    Being younger and shorter than her audience did not bother 9-year-old author Adora Svitak, who Tuesday commanded the attention of more than 100 sixth-graders at Hyde Park Middle School.

    Although Adora stands 4 feet tall, her presence loomed larger when she spoke. Her mastery of the English language with the writing hints she gave Hyde Park students had them hanging on her words.

    “Do you want this story to be more about magic or technology?” Adora asked the 11- and 12-year-old students “Do you want this to be some sort of murder mystery?”

    The sixth-graders responded with an unsynchronized and loud, “yeah.”

    And from there, Adora’s mind went to work.

    Within five minutes, she had written — on a laptop that was projected onto a screen — the introduction of a story about an arrogant woman named Marinthia who fielded a mysterious phone call during a rainy day that gave her the impression her father might have been killed.

    “Your imagination can stretch far,” the fourth-grader from Redmond, Wash., a Seattle suburb, told students.

    Adora’s imagination helped get her first book published at the age of 7: “Flying Fingers,” a reference to her ability to type fast on a computer keyboard at which she spends hours a day writing stories.

    The book is a how-to for parents, educators and students, guiding them in techniques children can use to develop stories and write. Her book has been published worldwide.

    Adora is in Las Vegas because she is scheduled as an inspirational speaker for real estate officials Thursday at the Mandalay Bay.

    Adora’s mother, Joyce, said Adora was not at Hyde Park plugging her book. She was there to show “children what they can do” at a young age, Joyce Svitak said.

    She added that although her daughter learned how to read by the age of 2 1/2, she did not realize that she was gifted until at the age of 5. At that age, Adora would write for hours every day.

    Adora has three finished, yet-to-be published books that range from fiction to poetry to political satire.

    Adora was blunt with the students about where she received some of her inspiration for her political satire.

    “I disapproved of some of George Bush’s policies,” she said.

    Joyce Svitak said the satirical book will make reference to the Iraq war and the No Child Left Behind Act federal standards.

    On Tuesday, Adora told students that they can get inspiration for stories from anything, even inanimate objects such as broken glass and cheese.

    She talked of a having a strong vocabulary, drawing stories from real-life experiences and how to write a solid beginning, middle and end of a story.

    One example she gave was to provide new locations and characters during the middle of the story to keep the reader interested.

    “It inspires people to know that they can do anything if they put their minds to it,” said Hannah Boynton, age 11. “She wrote a book and got it published at age 7. Who thinks of doing that?”

    Boynton’s classmate Daniel Diaz, 11, said he was inspired and will follow some of Adora’s advice.

    He said he imagines he will be reading Adora’s books throughout his lifetime.

    “I think at this rate, she’ll be a very famous writer.”

  12. I think Marla’s portraits are repulsively twee, and if I had a child who was precocious enough to do work like that I’d probably hide it from people.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] have noticed the name of “Adora Svitak” in the comments of several child prodigy posts on Art News Blog, so I thought I better find out who she is. She is a 9 year old writer that [...]

  2. [...] I was active on Art News Blog there were the 4 year old painter Marla Olmstead, the 11 year old Akiane and a few others. The new kid on the block is only 3 years old. Iris Grace Halmshaw is also [...]

  3. […] Child Prodigies – A few kids holding a paintbrush made it big. […]

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