Talking to Your Kids About Art

| 19.11.2017


Talking to Your Kids About Art

September 15, 2017September 1, 2017

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by Elyse Wild

This ArtPrize season, as the city transforms into an open gallery over night and our streets brim with the creative expressions of artists from around the globe, seize the opportunity to converse with your little ones about the artwork you see and experience together. Art evokes a response from the viewer— good, bad, subtle, intense, joyful. Articulating those responses opens you to thought-provoking discussions with those in your community, and further enables all of the transcendent connections you can experience through the power of artwork. Art is all around us, and with the ability to hold dialogue about it comes the power to process to the world around you.


Miranda Krajniak, executive director of the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, has led countless tours through the downtown gallery, often with school children. She says to begin talking about art, one need only to start with the most simple—and most important—question: “Do I like it?”

“Build up basic questions,” she suggested. “You will end up building a stairway that leads you further and further.”

Follow, “Do I like it?” with “Why or why not?” Then, “I like it.” “Why?” “I like the colors.” “Which colors?” “I like these shapes.” “What about them?”

As you venture around the city, taking in the array of works on display at ArtPrize, ask your kiddo these same questions.

“Why did they think it was important to share? You need to seek to understand where the artist is coming from.” –Miranda Krajniak, Executive Director, Urban Institute for Contemporary Art

Consider the Space

When viewing and discussing artwork with your child, Krajniak explains that its important to be conscious of the space you are in, as the surroundings may have an impact on your response.

“Consider the location,” she explained. “Public art will illicit a different reaction than art in a gallery—a gallery is a designated space. Most galleries will be very intentional about their space—some even have quiet areas set away from artworks to help you step back and process your thoughts and feelings.”

Seek to Understand

Get into the mind of the artist. Look for a label or chat card next to the piece and simply Google the artist to bring their perceptive into your dialogue. What is their background? What city do they live in? What is the political situation in that city? Give your little companion some context through which to view the artwork.

“Someone spends hours and hours making this piece and driving it here and hanging it up,” Krajniak said. “Why did they think it was important to share? You need to seek to understand where the artist is coming from.”

Tell the Truth

When artwork is displayed as vastly as it is during ArtPrize, it is possible your kiddo may come across mature concepts they have never before been introduced to.

“If it is a child asking a question about a sensitive piece, don’t lie to them.,” Krajniak expressed. “Answer in a way that gives them the information they need that is not overwhelming.”