PARENTING THE VISUAL ARTIST: LOOKING BACK.
When she was three she did a self-portrait that left us speechless.
At five she first took on Women’s Empowerment; creating an abstract piece on several sheets of 8.5 x 11″ paper – carefully taped together, allowing for large scale expression – that she called “Woman with Backbone”. It was later used as a book cover on an academic textbook.
We hoped we knew what we were doing.
My husband dubbed her “Our High Maintenance Kid” – HMK.
She was intense, inhumanly sensitive and incredibly determined. He quipped that if she just had access to a small country that she could run, she would be immensely more satisfied.
We hung on for the ride, scaffolding where we could, and providing as much encouragement as possible for her extraordinary needs and her incredible drive to produce, to learn and to contribute to the world.
Today she is 29.
She is a professional artist, an activist, a teacher, a writer, and a mentor to some amazingly talented young visual artists.
I offer these small historical insights to parents of similar children, from the perspective of nearly 3 decades.
The RAGE TO MASTER, EMOTIONAL COMPLEXITY, EXCEPTIONAL COGNITIVE CAPACITY and INTENSE CURIOSITY – hallmarks of the very gifted child – are now all in play, in very interesting and mostly satisfying ways for her.
Let us keep building healthy communities and networks to support our children. Let us keep our belief in them stoked, and in ourselves as parents, as they grow and explore all aspects of who they are.
About the Author: P. Susan Jackson, Therapeutic Director of The Daimon Institute for the Highly Gifted in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada. This international institute offers service to highly and profoundly gifted children and adults, supporting the learning needs and overall development of this exceptional population.
Her clinical work spans 25 years, comprising over 40,000 hours of psychotherapy wholly with this exceptional population. She is the author of numerous articles and chapters in the gifted education literature. Her Integral Practice for the Gifted model™ addresses multiple aspects of human functioning – cognitive, emotional, spiritual, physical and talent based dimensions – and explains how advanced cognition influences all of these elements, the Self, and the expression of talent.
In 2010, she produced a short documentary entitled “Exceptionally Gifted Children”, which she received wide acclaim internationally. In 2013-2014, the Daimon Institute produced “Rise: The Extraordinary Story of the Exceptionally Gifted” – a 60 minute film on the lives of 12 exceptionally and profoundly gifted persons from all over the globe.
Sue served as the Chair of the Parents and Curriculum Networks Communications Committee and Counseling and Guidance Network (National Association to Support Gifted Children), and is a member of the advisory board for SENG. She is recognized as an international expert in the field of the Exceptionally and Profoundly Gifted and regularly presents with other leading experts at the international conferences. She is a (nascent) photographer, poet, and nature lover with a passionate interest in advanced development, optimal health and well-being for the Profoundly Gifted populace.