Introducing your child to contemporary art is easier than you might think. Many contemporary artists are producing work that is experiential and interactive, making their art ideal for kids.
A simple visit to your local art gallery or school/community exhibition will open your child’s eyes to a whole new world of art, and eliminate any perceptions of art as ‘just painting’.
Some different types of contemporary art that you would expect to find are painting, drawing, sculpture, performance, new media, installation art and photography.
Benefits of introducing children to contemporary art
1. Fun and educational – Exploring art exhibitions and discovering new forms of art can be exciting for both you and your child. Comparing perspectives on certain artworks with your child is sure to generate a few surprizes!
2. Sparks imagination and creativity – Creativity is what children need to write stories, play music and solve problems. So whether your child thinks they can do a better job with the egg cartons in your recycling bin or teaspoons in your kitchen, any artistic license they develop as a result of seeing contemporary art, should be encouraged!
3. Think outside the box – Contemporary art will show your child that art isn’t just painting but more a unique form of expression that comes in many forms. More specifically, installation art, performance and new media which all differ from the conventional artwork that your child is used to seeing.
4. Interactive and sensual – Some art exhibitions (especially in the case of installation art) need some interaction to stimulate sound or movement. This is exciting for children – firstly to be able to touch an artwork (which normally is a big no-no), and knowing that they have triggered a reaction or some kind of process for their viewing and enjoyment.
5. Communication & questions – Art is thought provoking, so it is a great way to show your child that people can interpret things differently.
"What do you see? This is what I see…", "How does this make you feel? I feel like…". Also, your likes and dislikes might vary a lot, and this might be a new concept for a child – "I like this a lot and Mum doesn’t like it at all – but that’s OK".
6. Quality time – Art can be enjoyed by both parents and children, so it is a special time that you can spend together, especially if your child can see that you are learning or benefiting from the experience as well.
Tips for parents
Check out your local art gallery! As well as new exhibits and interesting themes, they might have holiday activities that you could attend with your child.
Plan ahead – If you are visiting the art gallery with children, find out what exhibits are on and decide on a plan of attack. Which ones are best for young children? How far between each exhibit? If you can, concentrate on spending time in a few areas instead of trying to do everything in one day.
Seasonal and new art – Keep your eye out for local art festivals and student artwork via local newspapers, magazines and online. These opportunities for budding new artists are ideal ways to introduce contemporary art in small, bite size pieces – before you attack the big art gallery.
Even if you don’t know anything about art you can still have a great outing to a gallery with children.
So instead of looking out for the next children’s shows playing in town, keep a look out for the next art exhibition.