Chio Book, 2008
paper, thread; 4 x 4 x 1 inch
This is one of many projects based on the ideas of Friedrich Fröbel (1782-1852), the German educator who designed, implemented and named the first kindergarten program. Fröbel’s program fashioned itself around a philosophy of unity, leading children to manipulate materials through various exercises (called “Gifts” and “Occupations”) to address forms of Nature, Knowledge and Beauty. Key modernist architects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier, passed through the program in its heyday, and some writers have made the case that it provided the seed-pearl of modernism.
Through an intimate exploration and reinvention of Fröbel’s exercises, Clark Espinal’s contemporary manifestations highlight the parallels between Fröbel’s concepts and modernist ideals. Chio Book is disguised as a found piece of historical ephemera related to both modernism and the Fröbel program. An illustrated assembly manual for the Lego character “Chio” designed by the artist’s daughter, it connects the popular building block toy to the tenets of modernism and the importance of imaginative play as highlighted by Fröbel’s program.