Projects in this section were selected from those included in the Reggio Emilia exhibition of December 2002 entitled The expressive languages of childen, the artistic languages of Alberto Burri.

This explored the relationship between the “languages” of children’s creative expression and the language of the renowned 19th century artist. Certain features of Burri’s work – the chromatic quality of his materials, ideas of variation and alteration, the compositional rigour – prompted journeys of research into relations between children, art and artists. Particular attention was given to the processes unfolded during creative acts - synthesis, the drive to exploration, intense connection to things, symbolic invention, metaphor, cultural courage, expressivity.


What might relate small children and a mature artist like Alberto Burri? A way of seeing the world not yet been locked into rigid categories of thinking; an enchanted ability of the perceptions, capable of seizing on graduations of colour with all the senses; a way of seeing which confers special qualities on elements in everyday life.

Children aged 8-30 months explore intensely. Crumpling, folding, rolling, tearing and transforming, they test for the reversible and conservable qualities of their materials. Genesis of the composition can be traced back to this work.


A paper napkin: an anonymous material revealing a myriad of properties when explored – white, lightweight, airy and delicate, slightly textured, opaque when placed in layers but almost transparent when opened out.

Preschool children create initial shapes while researching a ‘grammar’ of materials; alphabets and compositions which combine the children’s strategies with the ‘identity’ of the material.

When the compositions are placed close to each other they become re-combined into one large, final composition which carries the traces and identities of each and every ‘author’.


A transformational journey in which natural materials reveal quantity, qualities, density and variations in colour and hue to become paint.

The transformation of materials is continued in the atelier using hands, sieves and rocks to crumble, crush, sift and powder – capturing the material’s essence, colour and perfume.

The palette of materials prepared in this way is then used by children to make compositions bearing the traces of very different individual journeys of research.


This project has two ‘lives’. Four-year-old children with teachers and a musician-atelierista by their side, overcome various difficulties to build a sound-sculpture using natural materials.

Subsequently, other children receive one of these sculptures as a gift and are fascinated by it, perceiving the potential of an object which is a distillation of research demanding respect. However, the sculpture has a grave drawback: ‘in the end they made an orchestra that doesn’t work’. So the children decide make a new object, like an orchestra, above all rich in potential sounds.