Parents rightly think their child is special and proudly hang their artwork on the fridge or pass it along to grandma and grandpa. But is your kid the next Picasso? A new movie, My Kid Could Paint That looks at the story of Marla Olmstead, a young girl whose paintings have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars and brought her family both fame and, after a 60 Minutes piece questioning their authenticity, notoriety.
Is Marla a child prodigy or are the canvases a collaboration between her and her father, and she a mere pawn exploited by her parents? What does the sale of her paintings say about modern art? Even if children are gifted, how do parents nurture these abilities and still let kids be kids? The moviemaker presents both sides of the story and lets the viewer draw his or her own conclusions.
We think the issues this movie present tie into larger cultural questions about childhood. "Play" – be it sports, art, music, dance – is more structured than when we were growing up. Sure, we took the occasional piano lesson (and were most certainly not prodigy material), but we were free to play and explore at our own speed and for its own sake. As a culture is our fascination with so-called child prodigies and the trend of signing kids up for all kinds of scheduled lessons and activities a sign that we're expecting too much from kids who just want to play (or paint, as the case may be)?
My Kid Could Paint That hits theaters today (10/5).