The value of these artifacts is personal and sentimental, but they can also have an aesthetic power that goes beyond parental pride. The untaught sense of color and composition that children seem naturally to possess sometimes yields extraordinary results, and the combination of instinct and accident that governs their creative activity can produce astonishing works of art.Surely being by products of play does not disqualify something from being art. In many cases, it is an asset.* If a work of art by an adult was a part of a story of their cognitive and sensory awakening, it would contribute to calling the work a masterpiece.
Except that these magical finger-paint daubings and crayon scribblings aren’t really works of art in any coherent sense of the term, but rather the vital byproducts of play, part of the cognitive and sensory awakening that is the grand, universal vocation of childhood. The urge to commodify and display them is, primarily, an adult expression of appreciation and nostalgia.
I have no doubt that Marla Olmstead's work is art in the highest sense of the term, if perhaps, a little overpriced. I would display her work prominently, if I owned any, and wasn't already quite busy displaying the work of artists known more personally to me.
* In general I buy the expression theory of art, rather than the currently popular institutional theory . However I will not try to relate my claims about children's art to any broader theory here.