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Prospect Archive of Children's Work


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About (Iris’) Collection

(Iris’) original collection in the Archive spans 8 years, 1978-1986, from ages 5 years to 12 years and 9 months. The full collection contains 1,544 items, which are reproduced on microfiche in the Reference Edition. (Iris’) work is full of people. Both the visual work and writing reveal a deep sense of wonder about human activity, the internal life of people and the nature of relationships. (Iris’) figures are highly expressive, full of movement and emotion. (Iris) captures human qualities, like wickedness, in details of clothing, hairstyle and facial expression. Portraits of striking women appear throughout the work, some with mysterious, dream-like qualities. (Iris) also tells stories, first with drawings of favorite fairy tales, then writing her own. Houses also appear. Drawings of exteriors show an interest in structure and design, and cross-sections revealing the “story” of each room through furnishings and activities of characters. Houses also hold secrets, concealed staircases, and hidden treasure. Humor runs through the visual work and writing with a particular emphasis on mischief and trickery. Drawings made with marker and pencil predominate. The line is quite varied, and color ranges from vibrant to drab. Painted landscapes and perspective appear later. (Iris) uses a form, the arch, for multiple purposes. It appears as window, door, face, and repeated pattern. (Iris’) writing begins as simple journal entries about school, friends and family. Over time it expands to include poems and other reflective pieces on time, change, history, war and peace, and the natural world. There are also lengthy serialized stories. Conversation, and especially dialogue, dominates the writing during (Iris’) fifth year (age 9). Stories read like scripts. In the later years, poetry becomes a means of expressing complex moral/philosophical ideas concerning human nature, which remains a persistent interest for (Iris).

Extended Image Selection

This set of 226 color reproductions represents all the color images made of (Iris’) work for the Reference Edition. The selection results from the work of a participant in the Archive Scholars/Fellows project of 1983-1985 or of comparable study in later institutes. The participants—generally educators—each went through each item in the child’s collection, organized and numbered it chronologically, and, together with others similarly engaged, used Prospect’s Descriptive Processes to make additional collaborative inquiries into the work and the common and divergent threads between the children. The selection of color images for the Reference Edition was made on the basis of this study, to represent characteristic and exceptional themes, motifs, stylistic tendencies, and choices of media, through the duration of the collection.

Concise Image Selection

This sub-set of 60 images was selected based on notes of study of the collection from 2000-2003. It is in certain respects lacking in representation of the full collection. The selection was also somewhat influenced by the quality of reproduction in digital form. Prospect participants have found that 60 images are sufficient, and manageable, for a group of teachers to begin to see how a body of work by a child, created spontaneously and collected over a period of years, reveals persisting patterns of thematic interest and stylistic characteristics and reflects back on how the child thinks and what might support his or her learning. It is Prospect’s hope that this selection will be used by educators for this purpose.

Selected Writings

Selected Writings are transcriptions of a child’s writing. They were made by various people working with the file, at different times, generally in preparation for a workshop or institute at which the child’s work was to be studied. Other than the use of pseudonyms and the removal of other identifying elements, no consistent guidelines for handling spelling, punctuation, or other idiosyncrasies were applied.


The catalogues are year-by-year summaries of (Iris’) original collection, preceded by an overall summary, all prepared by Archive Scholars/Fellows working with the original material.

Narrative Records

The records consist of Prospect School teachers’ weekly notes and semi-annual reports to parents about (Iris), plus, as available, notes of Descriptive Reviews about her and her work (see the Methodology and Resources pages).