A Creative Space for Kids – the Art Explorium in Kaimuki

My kids are completely opposite when it comes to art. Mila started scribbling before she turned 1 and at 2 is drawing animals and people. Micah has always been more cautious, afraid to try new things. He was 3 before he attempted shapes – bubbles to be exact. They were really awesome bubbles, but he stuck with those for half a year before moving on to something new. He wants his art to be correct. For example, he was coloring a kiwi bird the other day and made me look up a photograph to make sure he had the bill and foot color correct. I’ve been trying to loosen him up a bit and teach him that there is no wrong way to create art.

That’s why I was excited when I stumbled across Art Explorium on Facebook. It’s a new, non-profit community art center for kids (and their creative parents) with a side of sustainability.  Many of the art materials in the studio are items that would normally be thrown in the trash (scrap pieces of fabric, used bottle caps, small boxes, magazines, ribbon, etc.). They collect these used materials so visitors can give the objects a new life as art. Such a great idea.

We headed over for open studio which costs $5 per child and gives you open access to the studio between 9-12 or 2-5 (depending on the day). We arrived to find a beautiful, bright space in Kaimuki with different open-ended art stations. Some are permanent like trash-to-treasure where you create new treasures from recycled objects. Other stations rotate weekly to to keep it fresh, but the overall idea is to provide a fun place where children of all ages have the opportunity and permission to create freely.


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I sat down with Heather, executive director of Art Explorium to find out more about the studio. It turns out that it was created by a group of art loving parents that wanted to foster creativity in children. Part of their inspiration came from an excellent TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson. He believes schools kill creativity. Check it out if you get a chance.

Heather loves seeing kids thrive in this unstructured environment. New visitors will carefully explore the stations, get excited about a particular project, and create something amazing. She especially loves it when adults get pulled in too and start creating their own masterpieces. She sees a lot of toddlers and preschoolers in open studio with a range starting as early as 18months to about 12 years old. Heather wishes more parents and educators knew how important art is for personal development and that there was more access to art across the islands. One day she would love to have an art bus that can travel around Oahu and bring art into more communities.

I was excited to see what my kids would create. Micah discovered a rocket ship created from an egg carton, cardboard and ribbon and decided to create his own version. Mila made a beeline for the big rack of scissors. She got to cut up a magazine and was in heaven. The kid loves scissors. It’s probably only a matter of time before she decides to experiment with her hair.  We had the place to ourselves for the first hour and then a mom group came in their kids creating a fun, chaotic atmosphere. The kids jumped from station to station, showed each other their masterpieces, and took lots of breaks in the bean bags chairs. I love the little reading nook by the window.

Head to the oahu for kids archives for more ideas to keep your kids entertained this summer and don’t forget to sign up for the Little Bird Post below to receive monthly updates on Oahu family fun!

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