Inspiring Kids with Art

April 7, 2022

Engaging children in artistic activities in the community during the pandemic has been challenging. So, when Seaspan had the opportunity to partner with The Polygon Gallery on Vancouver’s North Shore to provide a fun and welcoming environment for young people to engage with art, we were delighted to help.

Throughout 2021, 715 children and their caregivers enjoyed The Polygon Gallery’s Kids First Saturdays program. Geared towards children ranging from four to 14 years old, the program offered families of all kinds a chance to create an in-house art project — such as mask making, shadow plays, monoprints, zines, and cyanotypes — based on the exhibitions being shown in the Gallery.

In order to meet pandemic-related protocols, the program, which took place on the first Saturday of each month, offered time-slot bookings for small numbers of families. They would be greeted by educators, who provided a guided introduction to the current exhibitions, before inviting children and their adults to participate in an art-making activity in the Seaspan Pavilion, using ideas explored in the exhibition space. Activities changed every month so that participants would always enjoy a different experience.

There were many highlights in the art-making activities offered during Kids First Saturdays. Inspired by Steven Shearer’s painting The Collector’s Visit, kids were encouraged to bring an item from their toy collection with them to the Gallery. Similar to Shearer’s work, the young artists took photos posing with their item, then decorated a frame in which to display their photo.

Throughout the OG Punk exhibition, the photographer’s subjects can be seen wearing embroidered patches with different logos, often showing punk-band emblems. After looking at the exhibition to gain inspiration, kids were encouraged to create a design for their own patch. Once finished, Gallery staff helped to turn their creations into stickers to take home.

Shaped by the immersive experience of Derya Akay’s Meydan installation, participants were encouraged to think of ways to use salvaged materials to make a whimsical floral arrangement.

Families took inspiration from the many flowers and found oddities that were found throughout the exhibition. They created their own bouquets by combining ordinary household items with buttons, jewellery, curvy straws, felt and more.

After working up an appetite walking through the exhibition Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography, kids and their adults started kneading homemade playdough, using flour and food colouring, to make their own feast. Participants then posed their fruits, vegetables and treats for still life photographs similar to the ones seen throughout the exhibition.

With Seaspan’s support, the program continued to be accessible by-donation, so that no financial barriers existed to participation. Although the program had to continuously adapt to the restrictions of the pandemic, the Gallery’s team worked hard to rise to the challenge, ensuring that everyone was safe while enjoying activities that sparked imaginations and lifted the spirits of children and their caregivers.

 Photography by Alison Boulier and Ester Tothova. © The Polygon Gallery