Amanda Montgomery || @acmontgomery

“Digital Art shares something with both photography and painting…and at the same time provides [the artist] with an opportunity to redefine [their] cultural status…”  p 140 ; Remediation by Richard Grusin and Jay David Bolter

Today’s kindergartener falls incredibly vulnerable to momentous pressure when it comes to Art Class, because gone are the days of care-free finger painting, macaroni glitter and construction paper shapes.  Incoming elementary schoolers who will never know the joy associated with a creative, control free art period have pint-sized prodigy Marla Olmstead (or rather Marla’s parents) to thank for the shifting tensions related to the larger ‘Refrigerator Art’ market and its alway-fluctuating appraisal values.

Moreover, if you’re a parent whose seen the accompanying documentary entitled My Kid Could Paint That, (directed by film maker Amir Bar-Lev) then you’ve probably also seriously considered uprooting the family to the charming town of Binghamton, NY…

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In their collaborative work Remediation, authors Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin review how manipulative graphic technologies such as photography and Photoshop, fuse/remediate conceptually into a new, unprecedented medium termed ‘digital art’ which at the same time produces a yet uncharted buying trend.  And since its conception, the ‘Digital Art’ movement stands fraught with anxieties toward how it will be formally received by critics, collectors, and curators – to name just a few judging parties.Now introduce the aspiring artist/family, Marla Olmstead and company.  When considering the astronomic media frenzy that’s surrounding this particular child’s creative streak and their artistic future — one might question how her artistic techniques will change alongside forthcoming technological advancements?  But perhaps even more importantly, one might also consider how will the subject matter she approaches over time shift alongside her maturity as an individual?

Without a doubt, Marla Olmstead’s inaugural leap into the ‘Sustaining Artist’ role makes for an rather interesting educational case study.  Grusin and Bolter discuss at length how digital art endeavors merge revered, traditional methods into new, unconventional canvases but the narrative message remains allegorically/figuratively consistent.  Therefore over the next several decades, it’s speculative but exciting to anticipate how teachers, experiences, and society will effect the Olmstead legacy that in turn will impact the next generation art student and so on.  Marla’s advantage compared to Gaudi?  Marla began at age 4- her paintings currently appraise at $25,000 plus ; Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia is 80 years down the line yet incomplete.

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Although the ‘Olmstead Outrage’ places signifigant focus on the artist personality, countless unnamed graphic designers have earned fame, fortune and patronage by ‘learning while doing’ with such programs like MacPaint, Kid Pix, etc.  Parental encouragement/pressure stands secondary to an untainted curious and imaginative behavior every child carries when setting out to explore unknown lands and tasks.  True, an adventurous spirit and well developed software programs can lead any child to discover their hidden aesthetic talents, but only a historic education, guiding instruction, and opportunities to excel professionally will solidify a successful, long term artistic career.  Beyond creating ‘mere art’ any true artist must know their governing purpose intrinsically – and that is an idea which congeals over time.