The 100 Languages of Storytelling

“Painting is an infinitely minute part of my personality.” – Salvador Dali

When I started this project group my primary concern was my own limited ability to look at storytelling through different languages. But as we have spent the last few months drawing, painting, sculpting, dancing, and dictating stories I feel my own capacity to explore different languages of expression expanding. I see how each language adds a layer to their exploration, in different ways for different children. I find myself thinking about storytelling in a whole new light – and wonder how the children’s ideas of storytelling may have changed as well. 


“Every time I paint I throw myself into the water in order to learn how to swim.” – Edouard Manet

Each time I set up a provocation to investigate storytelling we used a new language. And each time, I watched them learn something new about their story as they explored it through a different mode. Tracing was no different.

We started the day off with their art work projected onto a wall in our classroom. We didn’t do anything specific with it for about an hour as everyone trickled into school. They did however get to feel pride in having their artwork being the size of the wall for everybody to see. They got to dance in it, make shadows in their artwork, and tell their story to anyone who wanted to hear.


When it came time to trace their artwork, I was faced with my own lack of consideration for the incredible thought processes that happen when tracing. It is an intricate dance – finding out where to hold your body, memorizing where your artwork being projected is and where the artwork you’re drawing is. Since we did this in the morning with the rest of the class was there, there was also a social and emotional component as others would stand, sit, or walk by the projector – causing their artwork to disappear, often mid-stroke. There was a balance as they wanted to feel proud that others were standing around watching them work, but also frustrated that because they were doing so it made it harder for them to work. 

Social approval is something every human in one form or another aims for. Children at this age probably more so than others. Choosing to be more invested in your artwork than your peers longing desire to admire your work, shows how important this project work is to them. 

It also helped highlight what about their drawing is most valuable to them. P chose to focus a lot more on representing that she has more friends than her baby brother, who was biting her in her saddest memory. S chose to focus on the happier aspects of her sad memory such as the sun, big and bright in the middle of the picture. E only traced the area that represented the fight with his mother, and left the rest out.

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” – Aristotle


Next we are going to work on adding color to their drawings, trimming them and then perhaps going on a thrift hunt for frames to put them in. I am actively reaching out to various cafes, bakeries, libraries, and other small businesses about the idea of displaying their memories for a day or two so they can explore deeper the idea of sharing their stories in art form with others, and what impact that has on both the artist, and the audience. 

“Art should be experienced and even better – lived with by others, not just stay in the studio.” – Katarina Wong






One thought on “The 100 Languages of Storytelling

  1. Hey Cynthia,
    This is really, really lovely. I think it’s fantastic that children are exploring their projects with their friends as witnesses (and obstacles!). Your awareness of the different skills involved in tracing is really astute too!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s