Art project with/for/about my newborn son
May 27, 2009 5:50 AM   Subscribe

What long-term art project should I do with/for/about my newborn son?

We've got this baby on the way. Coming in a couple/few weeks. And as if giving him my name, my everlasting love, sustenance for survival, a roof over his head, and my genes weren't enough, I'd also like to involve him in some kind of hare-brained, long-term art project. I'm not sure what, exactly, so I turn to you, creative MeFites.

Obviously choice is some kind of photo-a-day project. This would be great, but I'm not sure I have the stamina for it. Photo-a-week may be a more feasible endeavor. But either of those would be pretty obvious. I'm looking for something new(-ish) to do.

The goal here is to have some kind of artistic document of his growth over time that can be experienced in, say, a minute or two, rather than, you know, real time.

Ideas? Links to similar projects you've seen online?

Best answer gets to name him.
posted by sandor to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Instead of charting his growth on a door jam when you will surely move at some point and the markings will get painted over, make some kind of beautiful sculpture out of wood the size of a seven foot 2X8. Then you can take the sculpture wherever you move. Mark his height on the sculpture but then also write little haikus about what kind of day it is or mark other events like vacations or new puppies. Kids love to have their height measured.
posted by cda at 6:05 AM on May 27, 2009

Best answer: Yeah, kids really love having their height measured, and I know you're not into the whole photo-a-x idea but what if you took a photo every time you measure his height and incorporate it into the height tracker somehow? I was at my parents' house a few nights ago looking at our height door jamb thinking how cool that would be.
posted by telegraph at 6:13 AM on May 27, 2009

Instead of just measuring height, you could outline of his entire body. Maybe buy a bunch of really cool large paper in two colors and create an outline of him, alternating between the two paper colors, (in fetal position?), cut it out every time, then after 18 years (or whatever) stick them one on top of the other so that you have a full-size son with his smaller selves inside of him. Symbolic much? :)

After you're finished, you could mount it to wood or something and it would be a really amazing piece for him to keep for his entire life.
posted by nosila at 6:17 AM on May 27, 2009

Take an identical picture of him every day. After a while he might not be so cooperative, but you can make an awesome time lapse picture of it.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:35 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Take an identical picture of him every day. After a while he might not be so cooperative, but you can make an awesome time lapse picture of it.

And here's how to do it.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:09 AM on May 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

I have a friend who has taken a picture of her daughter on the same chair every week for the first year of her life (she just turned one). It's a beautiful way to document the change in her daughter while also seeing the different expressions, abilities, and outfits. Also, in her case you can see out the window to their front yard, so you also get the change in seasons.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:38 AM on May 27, 2009

I'd give some thought about how these projects will fit into your life if you intend to have more than 1 kid. I just have 2, but I noticed that in their first year, I took many more pictures of the firstborn than the 2nd- mostly because at that point there was a 3 year old who also demanded and deserved my attention. #2's baby book was also updated much less frequently. If there were to be a #3, I'm know his/her records would lag behind even more.

By all means do a cool project, but don't let it get too complicated. Any following kids deserve to have one too, and life will probably find plenty of other ways to occupy your time.
posted by Steve3 at 8:22 AM on May 27, 2009

Something with thumbprints? One week for the first month or so then once a month then once a year until 18... scan them or something for safekeeping and print out (I'd say do them on a really nice piece of art paper but I wouldn't want to depend on not losing a sheet of paper for 18 years that isn't replaceable) whenever you want, in any form, like this one? Minus the faces. Or with the faces, for that matter. At least if you have the prints saved you have a little time to decide- he'd probably be amazed to see how tiny he was and then how fast he grew for the first little bit.

It'd be fun to do them according to what his favorite color is that year or something- an extra memory incorporated. You're awesome for planning ahead, and congratulations and good luck with your little guy.
posted by variella at 8:35 AM on May 27, 2009

Oops forgot the link!
posted by variella at 8:36 AM on May 27, 2009

I planted a tree the week of each of my three kid's birthday. I take pictures of them in front of their tree as often as I remember and they cooperate. It is not consistent, but they love their trees! We planted them in the front yard so that if we moved we could come back and grab a quick picture. We have pix of them taking the bus the first day of kindergarten and the first day of middle school AND for one, the first day of high school. I imagine my kids will take their own wiseass pictures one day such as their first beer under the tree and their first joint, but so what, it is part of the tradition. Maybe we can get a wedding picture there one day too.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:36 AM on May 27, 2009

I am pretty certain I've already said the very same thing on a different question here (but maybe I'm having a moment of déjà-vu)...

I really like JohnnyGunn's tree idea, but would consider planting the tree(s) somewhere other than your own yard, so that you don't have to awkwardly stand in front of someone else's house to take pics should you ever move, and also you could turn "visiting the tree" into a fun day trip or other such tradition.

I admit that this isn't terribly art-projecty tho. You could combine it with taking a photo of kid + tree on certain landmark days (change of seasons?). Or bury a time-capsule under the tree once a year.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 10:52 AM on May 27, 2009

I would add that it is amazing how much the trees have grown in 12+ years. Kids too.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:08 AM on May 27, 2009

Best answer: What about a short video each day, week, month?? Make it 10 seconds, 30 seconds, one minute, etc., using the same duration each time. However long and often you wish. Do it all on the same tape of course. Then years from now play it all through, without ever watching it all beforehand. Just make sure it records each time!

Similar to taking a still picture, but using a video camera.
posted by Taurid at 11:11 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Before I go into my own project below, let me suggest a hardcover height measuring chart (there are several great ones at Amazon). You can personalize with pictures as desired, but more importantly, it's portable. So you can take it with you if you move, and it's very durable and easily stowable (unlike a statue, though that would be really cool).

I'm creating the materials to eventually make a childhood book for each of my 3 kids.

I take a picture of my kids (headshot) on the same day every month - the 10th for my girls, who were born March 10th, and the 2nd for my son, born April 2nd. Sometimes there will be cuter shots of the kids from other times during the month, but I use the (best of the) ones taken on the day - I like capturing all the moods and looks.

I also write them a letter every month with stories about things that happened that month:
- funny anecdotes (the crazy things they say and do)
- physical changes (height/weight info whenever we've been to the doctor, changes in eyecolor and haircolor, first teeth etc etc)
- new skills (first time turning over, sitting up, walking, eating, weaned from bottle, pottytraining, reading etc)
- events (naming ceremonies, trips, moves, Xmas, Halloween, family events, starting daycare/school, but also the smaller stuff like hanging out with friends, movies, playdates etc)
- new likes/dislikes (food, stuffed animals, blankies, favorite toys, friends etc)
- some of my epiphanies as a mother (I keep this light)

Basically, just talking about all the little things that make up their childhood, my motherhood and our time together as a family. This is quite a commitment, actually - it's sometimes hard to find the hour or two it usually takes me. I try to jot things down when they happen, especially the things they say, otherwise it's really hard to remember it all when I sit down to write.

My goal is to make a beautifully bound book about them from birth to age 18 (if I can keep it up) with one page being the monthly photo (with smaller insets of their siblings) and the letter nicely typeset on the facing page.

I'm not sure yet when I'll give it to them - maybe at 25 or their wedding? I'd like them to be old enough to appreciate it. My hope is that when they have their own kids they'll treasure the snapshots in time - of themselves, their siblings, our family friends and events, and the ups and downs of parenthood.
posted by widdershins at 12:38 PM on May 27, 2009 [5 favorites]

We take a photo of our little guy around his month birthday sitting in a bumbo seat. That's pretty fun.

6 months
5 months (well, we forgot, but this works)
4 months
3 months
2 months
1 month

And on his yearly birthdays, I'm hoping to buy a men's large plain white t-shirt and take photos of him in that.
posted by k8t at 2:25 PM on May 27, 2009

Take a family picture every year, Sept 1, or 1st day of school. Great record.

Write letters or draw cartoons to fill the baby book. I have all the baby teeth, lock of hair, and stuff in The Memory Box. A cardboard box with favorite toys, and special things, including a baggie holding the contents of a 5 year old boy's pocket on a summer day.

Make up & illustrate stories in which your child is the main character.
posted by theora55 at 3:52 PM on May 27, 2009

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