Born to Draw: The Development of Artistically Gifted Children with Jennifer Drake

Graphic for Professional Learning Online

Thursday, January 19, 2023
8 to 8:30 pm Eastern
Born to Draw: The Development of Artistically Gifted Children
Jennifer Drake
Brooklyn College, CUNY

Description: Some young children are able to create stunningly realistic drawings that resemble those of adult artists. In this talk, I will present research examining the perceptual and cognitive skills that underlie this talent in children. I will consider three pieces of evidence for their innate talent. First, the drawings of these children are advanced from the start before they have been given any formal drawing instruction. Second, these children are not just advanced but are also different: they have superior visual memory, mental rotation, and visual imagery skills. Most importantly, these children show a “rage to master” in the domain of drawing—a strong drive to figure out the rules of graphic representation. Finally, I present research suggesting that artistic brilliance in children may not be limited to drawing realistically and may be found children who are gifted in abstract expressionist art. Thus, there may be two routes that gifted child artists follow – one the early representational/realism route and the other the early abstraction route.

Speaker Bio: Jennifer Drake is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her research program focuses on the psychology of the visual arts. In one line of research, she examines the emotion regulation benefits of engaging in drawing for children and adults. In a second line of research, she studies the cognitive and perceptual processes underlying graphic representation skills in autistic, non-autistic, and gifted children. Her research has been funded by grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Imagination Institute supported by the John Templeton Foundation, and PSC-CUNY. Her research has been featured in Scientific American Mind, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, The New York Times, and on National Public Radio. She was named a 2015 “Rising Star” by the Association for Psychological Science and an outstanding early career scholar in 2018 by the American Psychological Association for her work on the emotion regulation benefits of everyday art-making.

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