Chicos al arte: A project that believes in the infinite capacity of children
Estefanía Radnic

During these pandemic winter holidays with little chances of leaving home, art will be a great ally. With its ability to transport us and create other worlds, it will help us go through in family the long days of the winter break. For this reason, we talked with Javiera Valencia Arenas, a Chilean artist settled in Buenos Aires who created “Chicos al arte” (Kids to art), a social media project that crosses art and childhood.

Estefanía Radnic: How did “Chicos al arte” emerged? Why do you think that bringing children closer to the art world and accompanying them on that path is so important?

Javiera Valencia Arenas: “Chicos al arte” emerged from my search and construction of a path to bring girls and boys closer to worlds where Art is born. It is a space for connection, experimentation and artistic exchange. It works as an art network focused on the creative process and bonding through artistic experiences. Art enhances learning through play, encourages creativity and the perception of what they are experiencing.

Accompanying the creative processes is very important since from the experience (how, where, with whom?) the affective is developed and an immediate identification is achieved.

ER: What does educating children through art mean to you as an artist and a mother?

JVA: “It is very important, with Art we stimulate our senses, with them we perceive and recognize our world, we create a unique and sensitive vision of our environment. Boosting and empowering the magical way of observing is a priority.

Proyecto Pode Pintar, Paraty, Brasil. 2014

In this framework, arised PODE PINTAR! (You Can Paint!) in Brazil (2014), where we create scenarios of exploration and experimentation in public spaces. An invitation to an artistic experience in direct connection with nature. Taking out of context and surprising is one of the things that most helps boost creativity.  We work with rolling gardens in Sao Paulo, in Rural Associations in Paraty, in Literary Festivals (Flip), and we move it to Chile.

ER: Is there an educator who has inspired you (and still inspires you) to carry out this project? 

JVA: On the other hand, a few years ago I discovered Reggio Emilia pedagogy and it was something that immediately captivated me: learning is totally experiential and is driven by what is happening in its environment.  The philosophy of this educational methodology that emerged in Northern Italy is condensed in the poem “The Hundred Languages of Children” written by Loris Malaguzzi, its founding pedagogue. It gives us to understand that children are infinitely capable:

 The child is made of one hundred. The child has a hundred languages, a hundred hands, a hundred thoughts, a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking. A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening, of marveling, of loving. A hundred joys
for singing and understanding. A hundred worlds to discover. A hundred worlds to invent. A hundred worlds to dream. The child has a hundred languages. But they steal ninety-nine. The school and the culture
separate the head from the body. They tell the child; to think without hands,
to do without head, to listen and not to speak, to understand without joy […]
And thus they tell the child, that the hundred is not there
The child says: NO WAY the hundred is there.

Also, María de los Ángeles “Chiqui” González (Argentine cultural manager, lawyer, theater director and teacher) inspires me with each of her writings.

ER: What strategies did you implement during confinement? Did you modify the dynamic of Chicos al arte?

JVA: “Chicos al arte reinvented itself with this pandemic, I quickly thought about how to continue bringing Art closer and create immediate ties through an experience raised by the same artist. A link, that despite virtuality, was direct between families (the proposals are not only made for kids, adults are also motivated to create) and artists. The idea is to bring to each house a little bit of the artists’ world, where we are inspiring motors to build flexible looks in the new generations. ”

ER: What are the activities that you propose during these particular winter vacations in which families find themselves at home with few occasions to go out?

JVA: “The programming for these holidays proposes six Artistic Experiences based on the exploration of materials and inspiration from Artists: textile art, sculpture, engraving, surrealism, art home  and color. These are 3 virtual encounters per week (they can also choose the meeting (s) that interest them most), with materials that we have at home. Recycling is very present in the Chicos al arte proposal. I am also going to teach a creative drawing workshop on July 25 at the Museum of Modern Art (of Buenos Aires) by zoom.

During these times of being at home, there are many who are saturated with video calls. There is the option to do it on your own time and create with the proposals of the artists that are in the CAA feed ”

We hardly recommend you to follow @chicosalarte (instagram / facebook) to be aware of art activities and workshops!

© All images courtesy of Javiera Valencia Arenas.

Proyecto Pode Pintar, Paraty, Brasil, 2014.
CC Recoleta, Buenos Aires. Muestra de Stoppani y Legavre
Proyecto Pode Pintar, Paraty, Brasil
CC Recoleta, Buenos Aires. Muestra de Stoppani y Legavre
CC Recoleta, Buenos Aires. Muestra de Stoppani y Legavre
Activities for children with art. A selection from our editorial team.