Chalk Drawings

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They were just chalk drawings but the art of Halie Kampman’s nephew reminder her that learning lasts a lifetime.

Draw me a red dog…wearing a hat…surfing on a wave…in a purple ocean full of octopi!

This was the request of my three-year-old nephew when we were playing with chalk in the backyard this summer. Like an impassioned artist, he raced around the back pavement throwing his little chalk-covered arms about and shouting directions. That day, our drawings felt like more than a child’s game. It felt like a special opportunity to illustrate the workings of his three-year-old mind.

The drawings that he requested were a jumbled and fantastical version of things we had encountered that week. He asked me to draw scenes we saw, characters from books read, the topics we talked about. His growing mind is like sponge: absorbing all that is around him. Like a sponge, he absorbs the images he sees, the interactions he witnesses. He processes these inputs by asking me to draw them for him, reimagined in his own configurations.

My nephew reminded me how important it is to keep my mind absorbing. This is relevant in my adult life. In graduate school, professors who I respect emphasize that I should be thoughtful and selective about the authors that I read. The texts that I absorb will shape the way that I think. Beyond that, the people I surround myself with, the languages places, tastes, spaces, and sights that I expose myself to - they all build my foundation. These things that I absorb matter, because the way I think shapes the way that I act.


While the adult world tends to focus on the things we are able to produce, it’s easy to forget the long, ongoing process of absorbing, or learning. I see my nephew’s chalk drawing in the backyard as a colorful celebration how hungry and absorptive young minds start out to be. I am excited to imagine what he might ask me to illustrate next year.

With a Perspective, I’m Halie Kampman.

Halie Kampman lives in Santa Cruz and is working toward her PhD in Environmental Studies.