KIDS, ART AND THE BIG WIDE WORLD

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In arts education, two things really set us apart.

First, the artists/educators we employ must be ‘career artists’. They must be degree qualified and practicing in a professional sense. Second, we believe that children need to be exposed to A LOT of ART, especially in Australia where, let’s face it, galleries, museums and being exposed to art aren’t part of our everyday culture.

When I’m designing a program, I want the kids to understand the larger picture, to see things in context, and to understand that creative expression and making art are normal things.

At high school in the 80s, I was shown only ‘museum worthy’ art – moderns and renaissance artists with the occasional ancient (lots on Mesopotamia for some reason) thrown in. But, if it wasn’t in a book that my teacher (also known as the keeper of all knowledge) had, then I didn’t see it. There was never any sense that a vibrant, creative international arts industry existed, and most of the artists (in my teacher’s book anyway) were white, male, European and undeniably dead.

These days, with the Internet and social media, we can see EVERYTHING that is happening in the world. Which brings me to a young, upcoming artist toiling away in her (let’s hope heated) studio somewhere in Minnesota and how the kids at our studio were inspired by her.

I’m always looking at new artists and I try to connect with people who are doing things a bit differently; the most creative creatives, if you like. Through the Modern Met Instagram page, I came across a young artist called Sophia Heymans and was captivated by her amazing ‘skewed perspective’ works. She uses really ‘out there’ materials like dirt and moss, prairie grass, burrs, mop strings, hair, papier mâché and dried herbs!

Check out her work at www.sophiaheymans.com

So, I designed a workshop around Sophia’s work as part of our school holiday program and I sent her an email telling her about it. The same day, from the other side of the world, she replied:

On 16 Jan 2016, at 1:35 PM

Hi Sophia, We run a kids art studio and we are doing a painting class next week based on your work :)

Can we share one of your paintings on our Facebook page to promote the workshop?

Kindest
Jennine

www.bigfatsmile.com.au/artspace

On 16 Jan 2016, at 3:29 AM

Hi Jennine,   This is one of the coolest things i’ve heard in a while! I’m honored.

Of course you can share an image. Let me know if you need a higher quality picture than the images you find online.

Is there a way to see pictures of the kids’ pieces once they are done?

Thanks so much,
Sophia

On Jan 15, 2016, at 5:38 PM

Thank you Sophia,

Yes! We’ll take lots of photos and send them through after the workshop!

Thanks for the inspiration. I’m a huge fan of your work :)

JENNINE

On Jan 16, 2016 2:15 PM
Sounds GREAT. I would really love that.

Thanks Jennine.
Sophia

On Jan 28, 2016 at 10:39 PM

Hi Sophia,

We hear there is a lot of snow over there! We hope you are safe and keeping warm. I’ve attached some of the work created in our session at Artspace. The children loved seeing your paintings and really got into the idea of aerial perspective. The children were aged 5-8 years. Quite a few 5 and 6 yr olds. We live between the mountains and the sea so that features quite a bit. The first one is based on a google image of the Earth from outer space Thanks again for the inspiration! 

Jennine, the Artspace Artists and the kids.

On Jan 30, 2016 at 9.30 AM:

Jennine, Wow, what an incredibly talented group of kids. I love what they chose to incorporate for texture!
Their pieces turned out so beautiful and so exciting.

Yes, it is very cold and snowy here. All the bright greens and blues in these paintings makes me want to hop on a plane to Australia!

Thank you for sending the pictures, so fun for me to see.

Take care,
Sophia

And here is a selection of the works done by the children (all under 7 years) in our studio with the technical and inspirational support of Big Fat Smile artist Angela Forrest. And the inspiration? Young American artist, Sophia Heymans, from her studio in the snow.

SOPHIA3 SOPHIA2 SOPHIA1 SOPHIA4