I think that I had a different reaction than most people when introduced to Marla's talent. After reading some and watching a couple of clips, I realized that she created quite a controversy. Many were saying that she is true child prodigy that has a talent that most accomplished artists are jealous of. Others responded by not being impressed by the work, thus making all controversy a moot point. Still, some others responded by saying that it is a hoax by the parents.
(Vids avail. at her site)
My response was to remember that some of the artists, who have shaped our concept of what good art is, impressed people with technique and concepts. However, many of the artists then tried to "unlearn" what they did so that they could get back to raw emotion.
With Marla, I believe that she is only special in the fact that she was given the materials and opportunity to do what most kids inherently yearn to do. For the sake of civilization, parents quickly and relentlessly inhibit infants desire to express using shapes and colors. Parents are famous for having stop children from marking on the walls and telling them to "Stop playing with your food." Dont' get me wrong, for this is necessary at some degree. As an art teacher, I question myself and wonder where the line is between teaching students to be civilized and teaching students to be expressive. Have I just tapped into the real purpose of canvas? Perhaps the canvas' role is not just to provide a surface to paint on, but to symbolize to the audience that the marks and shapes are expressive and civilized.
Back to the point: Is Marla a child prodigy? With the information that I have, no. She's simply a young girl with materials, good parenting, an above average ability to keep colors separate, and a whole lot of attention.
Incidentally, I bought the award-winning documentary "My Kid Could Paint That" on DVD. With interest, I'll consider playing it in class.
You agree or am I off my rocker?