Enriching the lives and spirits of their children. The Pearsons.
``Look at these faces!'' urged Audrey Pearson, pointing toward the wall at the framed origami work of her son, Jason. ``It's so extraordinary that such simple, geometric configurations can communicate an absolute likeness. There's no doubt as who these people are. And there are so few shapes, basically.'' As we walked through their home, Audrey also pointed out a framed photo of a Japanese high school class arrayed in rows of blue uniforms, with cherry blossoms in the background. One blond head stood out. It belonged to Jason, who last year decided to live in Japan.Skip to next paragraph
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``I thought it took incredible guts,'' says his father, John, in his pleasant Yorkshire inflection. ``I mean, he's only 16.''
Another photo shows Jason holding an umbrella and already looking a little Japanese in his attitude. ``Origami introduced him to the Japanese culture,'' Audrey explains. ``He's uncertain as to what his choice of involvement will be in life,'' she says, ``and the whole notion of their gardens -- the balance, the beauty -- attracted him. He liked the kind of protocol the Japanese mentality seemed to project. And Japanese architecture. He knew the Japanese were very advanced technologically and he's interested in that -- he's very good at mathematics.''
Such comments reflect the independence, human and artistic insight, common sense, and mutual respect so abundant in the Pearson family, which fairly hums with creative energy and where concept and practice live in vibrant harmony.
John, a nationally recognized artist, is chairman of the Oberlin College art department. His wife, whose professional name is Audrey Skuodas, is herself a talented and productive painter, originally from Lithuania. She and her family were displaced persons after World War II and then lived in Germany.
Their other child is 14-year-old Cadence, ballet student and recreational artist, who lives at home in the family's century-old brown-and-tan house with its spacious veranda on the front and sides. It sits on a tranquil tree-lined street a few blocks from Oberlin, allowing John to bike to his classes in a life style that is almost a stereotype of an academic idyll.
Inside, the house bears remarkable record to the skill of the parents and to the talents of the children as they developed over the years. Besides paintings, carefully framed examples of the children's work cover much of the walls, chosen by the loving but professional eyes of John and Audrey. And among the rich bounty of other beautifully displayed objects are creatively constructed doll houses, shelves of dolls, a whole collection of mechanical figures, plus toys and other items conceived and made by the parents to enrich the lives and spirits of the children.
``We're accumulators, not collectors,'' admits John about the physical environment that help nurture the creativity of Cadence and Jason. ``These things are not necessarily great works of art, or the best or the first or the most significant. They were just things that we love.''
When the family made Christmas presents for each other, they would sit together -- a little cottage industry -- but wouldn't let each other see what was being worked on until the day itself. The seasonal cries of ``Don't look!'' still ring in John's memory.
As Jason and Cadence became aware of their surroundings, ``we never said don't touch, you're going to break it,'' John points out. ``Whenever there was any interest shown we would give them the thing, let them look at it, feel it, understand it.''
``If there were just a method of imparting this information to parents,'' says Audrey with an urgency born of lifelong experience, ``to please provide their children with pencils, paper, building blocks -- anything. I remember buying old construction blocks when Cadence was two or so, and the things she could create with just these rudimentary objects!''
``It's not a matter of just providing the materials,'' John observes. ``It's being sure not to demean that activity, which often happens unintentionally in families. It's providing an ambiance...''
``...and noticing,'' Audrey picks up, ``when they've come to a stumbling block and then helping see them through it, and thinking about at what stage of development they are.''