kristin chapman

Creative Bleed Archive

children’s art show

If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.
— Aristotle

I love that quote! And I thought it would be a perfect accompaniment to today’s post which is about a Children’s Art Show. You may have seen a few pics on IG the last month in regards to putting on an art show for preschoolers. I thought I take the time to share with you some pictures from the show as well as some thoughts because it was such a valuable learning experience.

Last year, after attending the 1000 Words artist reception with my family, my then 4year old said to me that she would like to have an art show. I thought this was a terrific idea for her Reggio Emilia inspired preschool. I am always so inspired by what the kids make and how they explore different materials and make ideas come to life. So this year we brought it up to the school directors/teachers which as it turns out was something they had always wanted to do, long story short we made it happen and it was quite a success!

Our school’s art show consist of roughly 45 students ages 3 to 6 and over 78 works of art, this included paintings, watercolors, drawings, mixed media, sewing, collages and 3-D sculptures.

Art shows are fairly easy to put on, but of course the more participants you have the bigger the show and more complicated it can be. But with planning, help and a little bit of fund raising a successful show can be achieved. Below are a few suggestions:

1.) Start early and start a committee.

Although I started early with securing a venue for our school art show, I wish I would have also got the committee together a little earlier then I did. This is especially necessary if you plan on doing any fundraising or perhaps some display building.

2.) Find a great space

We are fortunate enough to have an awesome library that has a nice size gallery space in the lobby. Some other places for a children’s art show might be a culture art center, theater lobby, cafe, local gallery or why not even your school’s lobby or library.

3.) Put it in a frame

Our school was adamant about the work being in frames and having unity which I agree. People tend to frown upon children’s art, especially preschool art. But when you put it in a frame you are suddenly looking at miniature Pollack’s and Rothko’s, it’s awesome! Frames can be an expense but worth the cost. There are some great places to get decent, inexpensive frames too. We used Ikea because we had some rather large paintings. The Ribba series are light, inexpensive, come with a mat and wire that can easily be put together. Some other places are Aaron Brothers during the penny sale, Dick Blick, Michael's and Joanns (shop the sales and use coupons). If you have time you can look at garage sales and thrift stores. Most frames are easy to repair and can be painted to give a cohesive look. Being consistent with frame color definitely helps pull everything together.

4.) Fundraise

Fundraise for frames and supplies you might need for your show and reception. Our school has a big silent auction/dinner fundraiser every year that we were able to make some extra money for frames for the show. You could also have a frame drive or use fundraising sites such as Go Fund Me or Dick Blick’s Art Room Aid. You can even turn your art show into a fundraiser which is what we ended up doing in the end as well.

5.) Curate artwork

This is the hardest part but also the funest. We did our best to make sure every student who wanted to be part of the show had something. It wasn't an easy task but we managed. Some kids just do alot of art while others don't. It is important to respect that. We also wanted a range of materials to show process and creativity. Give a kid a cardboard roll and some rose thorns and he or she might make an alligator!

6.) Have a plan

Depending on your space you will want to have a plan for how the art work will be displayed. Here are few questions to ask yourself when planning:
How big is the space? Is there a hanging system? How does the system work? Can the cables or hooks be moved? If they can’t, how many hooks are on a cable? What is the picture orientation? How will it be organized (size, subject, material)? How much art work will you need? What about three dimensional art work? How will it be displayed?

7.) Have a reception

Every art show needs a reception to honor the artist(s) in the show. This is a perfect opportunity for kids to talk about their work, share it with fellow students, friends and families. And also gives them an opportunity to see their fellow artist’s work. You also might want to make it more age appropriate with foods and maybe an activity. A parent from our school made sugar cookies with hardened white icing for the kids to draw on with food grade markers. It was perfect and big hit at the reception!

8.) Sell it!

It can be a tricky thing to sell kids art or not. Children are know to get attached to things and most remember what they make.  But this is an excellent fundraising opportunity for your school’s art program. Plus its mostly teachers, parents and grandparents who are purchasing the artwork. And if you artwork is framed, you can phrase it that way. Sell the framed art work and if parents don't want it framed, they have the work back unframed. It will all depend on your community, we are lucky to have such a tight community of families that are willing to do things in spirit of.

Finally, Have fun! And Good Luck!