To the editor:

For many of us, a new box of crayons was the best gift a child could receive. The box might have contained anywhere from 12 to 64 blazing color choices. Did the colors we chose to use in our drawings then determine our life’s direction, or can we as adults, still exercise free choice in our journey?

The smallest crayon boxes led to very simple choices. No shadings, not much room for misinterpreting if the grass was meant to be green or brown. Every person looked the same and so did most skies and gardens.

As we became more skillful and artistic, our demand for more crayon color choices grew. Was this because we were also being exposed to more diversity in our everyday lives? Did we begin to see people from different ethnic groups and recognize that the world is made up of many colors and cultures? Were families traveling farther from home and increasing their exposure to new ways of life? These are possible reasons for needing more crayons.

But what about puzzles? Heavy cardboard pieces depicting barnyard animals led to scenic lakes and maybe even to 1,000-plus piece challengers that revealed an array of amazing fall colors. We selected puzzles according to what we wanted to look at for hours at a time on a tabletop as we tried to make a solid picture from the multiple shapes and colors.

I was never very good at coloring or drawing freehand. Both activities frustrated me. But as an adult, I love to choose colors. I also love to choose travel locations and to explore a wide range of ethnic foods. True, I never requested a large box of crayons, but I was also not spending much time using my meager selection either.

Puzzles were my hobby of choice. I could see so many places and people — even odd animals like the rhinoceros.

Children today have only experienced color TV, and they watch shows that attempt to represent diverse neighborhoods and workplaces. Many of them lived in mixed neighborhoods and in big cities with multiple ethnic groups. There is no question that children truly need all “flesh tones” and nuanced colors that should be standard in crayon boxes and every faced of our lives.

The arts provide history with a representation of society as it was in the artist’s time. Art should show how we live and lived — as a blended society with unlimited choices. Life should influence art. How we view our lives should not be limited by the choices one small cardboard box offers.

Janet Falkenstein


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