This is one of my daughter's paintings. She painted it three years ago when she was in kindergarten, and it remains one of my favorites.
What it is: A list of sight words. She was very excited about learning to read, and this was a group of words she thought a kindergartener should be able to instantly recognize and understand without sounding them out. She chose different colors because she is a kid and she wanted the words to be different colors. And, the "i" in the word "is" is dotted with a heart. More on that "i" in a minute.
I was curious about how people would respond to this painting. Words have such powerful meaning that it can be difficult to see past them and imagine anything else. Of course, the usual cadre of Friday Rorschachers responded, and they did not disappoint.
What you thought it was:
Several of you immediately nailed it:
@mwachtel My son's sight word list.
— Christina (@canofrockstar) February 21, 2014
@mwachtel the picture made me think that maybe he's practicing for spelling test while using different colours to write it #FridayRorschach
— ⓢⓗⓤⓕⓐⓝⓖ (@ShufangSays) February 21, 2014
@mwachtel over here we learn common words, depending on child's age this looks like it. #sightwords or practise for #spellingtest
— katrina grayson (@trinabobbles) February 21, 2014
@mwachtel Yet another initiative in teaching little ones to read! #Phonics #FridayRorschach
— Fiona (@Mistress_Fiona) February 21, 2014
Riffing off of the concept of a list of words, some of you went with a more psychological, metaphorical, or spiritual interpretation (the idea of a damaged ego isn't too far off the mark, by the way. At the age of 5, kids are pretty much purely id driven):
@mwachtel path of life #fridayrorschach
— Leanne Milliman (@librarian5280) February 21, 2014
@mwachtel Clear indications of a damaged ego.
— RatherbyReading (@RatherbyReading) February 21, 2014
@mwachtel a chakra chart in words. Fascinating. #FridayRorschach
— K flynn (@k_flyMN) February 21, 2014
A few of you mixed technology into your responses (and up until today, I had no idea CAPTCHA was an acronym--I just thought it was a weird word a computer scientist created):
@mwachtel A Captcha done in Lolcats. (I obviously know too much about the internet.)
— Michael Cumpton (@mccumpton) February 21, 2014
@mwachtel Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Ah, but is it case sensitive? #FridayRorschach
— Dustin P. (@DPumpWORD) February 21, 2014
Sports always makes an appearance in the Friday Rorschach (in this case, it was the very first response):
@mwachtel I immediately saw Go Heels, since UNC beat Duke last night. I love my TarHeels.
— MissBumptious (@missbumptious) February 21, 2014
Several of you responded with references I was afraid to look up, lest I end up on a government watch list:
@mwachtel The Gold helps IIS - where the second I is really a space ship - whole thing refers to Nobel prize for ISS
— Justin Shinohara (@JustinShinohara) February 21, 2014
@mwachtel A great colour reproduction of the first line of a quatrain spell in the Necronomicon on paper not human skin, making it inert
— Bret Higgins (@DeadBeatBert) February 21, 2014
And my personal favorite (this one truly made me laugh out loud):
@mwachtel It looks like @joelosteen sermon notes.
— Sola Dei Gratia (@Sola_Dei_Gratia) February 21, 2014
What you might have missed: In person, this painting is really spectacular. The colors of the words jump off the page, and there are a lot of little paint splatters. It creates a sense of urgency and motion, as if my daughter were frantically painting these words, in a hurry to learn to read. This probably isn't too far off the mark--she learned to read at a normal age, but she expressed a lot of frustration when she was very young about not being able to read on her own. She once said in the middle of a temper tantrum, "I'm two, I'm tired, and I can't read!"
Through her words and deeds, she has always equated reading with both freedom and power.
And, on an unrelated topic, don't forget about the "i." As I mentioned above, she dotted it with a heart. I know a lot of you probably saw another image in this painting, but only one of you mentioned it:
@mwachtel I'm not quite sure what it says, but I definitely see a blue penis! #FridayRorschach
— Facenna (@Facenna) February 21, 2014
Thanks for reading-- Max Wachtel, Ph.D.
Friday Rorschach is a fun project designed to engage readers' creativity. To participate, follow Max on twitter. He posts the drawing every Friday morning around 10am ET/8am MT. There are no wrong answers to the Friday Rorschach.