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Prospect Archive of Children's Work


  • featured collection
  • featured collection
  • featured collection
  • featured collection
  • featured collection

About (Sean’s) Collection

(Sean’s) collection spans nine years, 1971-1980, ages 4 years and 9 months to 13 years and 6 months. The collection contains 1,140 items, which are reproduced in full on microfiche in the Reference Edition. (Sean’s) work is marked by a spirit of experimentation, a sense of the artist himself as a medium, and continuing preoccupation with such ideas as transformation, doubleness, reversibility, magic, trickery, disaster and rescue, the hidden world, and befallenness. In visual work, (Sean) used every physical medium available, from paint to prints, photography, and sewing, with preference given to plain pencil. His experimental attitude is further visible in lots of reworking and preliminary and marginal sketches. He is a virtuoso of line; his rare use of color is charged. In both visual and written work, work within the same year veers from great sophistication to less accomplished pieces. Overall, he seems to privilege experimentation over finished statements. Figures are singular, generic. The eye and the self-portrait are two continuous, striking motifs in visual work. Mirroring, images within images (a hand drawing a picture), figure-ground ambiguity, and forms of trickery, punning, magic, and tantalizing/provocative ambiguity, often with an edge of sly humor, are characteristic. In writing, (Sean) also practiced many genres. Unnamed, singular characters and un-located events abound—the boy, the deer, the lady, the cowboy, the river. His language is spare and economical, with occasional stunning adjectives. Action consists of movement and progress is dream-like. Compositional structure is by repetition, recurrence, parallelism, alternation or reversals, which often confuse figure and ground. In the later years, a new lyricism appears, especially in watercolors of land- and seascapes, or, in writing, descriptions of nature.

Extended Image Selection

This set of 269 color reproductions represents all the color images made of (Sean’s) work for the Reference Edition. The selection results from the work of a participant in the Archive Scholars/Fellows project of 1983-85 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 other participants, 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 for this website by the same person who originally processed the collection in 1983-85. The selection was 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.


The catalogues are year-by-year summaries of (Sean’s) 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 (Sean), plus, as available, notes of Descriptive Reviews about him and his work (see the Methodology and Resources pages).