Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Rorschach: The Go He I Is

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:

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):

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):

Sports always makes an appearance in the Friday Rorschach (in this case, it was the very first response):

Several of you responded with references I was afraid to look up, lest I end up on a government watch list:

And my personal favorite (this one truly made me laugh out loud):

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:

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.


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