ARTY STEPS: WALK THE CREATIVE WAY
“Creativity is now as important in education as literacy”- Sir Ken Robinson
Arty Steps is a beautiful little art studio in Bogotá where kids aged 2 to 12 can gather is small groups and create. Children are introduced to art from prehistory to contemporary art and explore local and international artists.
Today we travel to Colombia and meet Ana, founder of Arty Steps. It has been a great pleasure to interview Ana, and I think you are going to love her answers about the benefits of art for children, her unique approach to art education and her passion for creativity. Ana also shares with World Kids the best-kept secrets for families visiting Colombia.
World Kids: Why did you decide to found Arty Steps?
Ana (Arty Steps): I’ve loved art since I can remember. And along with this path I’ve had marvelous teachers and some not so nice. I took a leap of faith and began Arty Steps in order to let children have the art lessons I would have loved to have as a kid and become the best teacher I can be. I just want to share my love and knowledge of art.
What is your creative background?
I studied Art at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota. I did a Masters in Graphic design and a Diploma in Photomedia in UNSW. This is the base so to speak of where it all started.
I believe it is in the experience, in the people I’ve met along the way through different jobs in creative spaces like, MAMBO, Artspace from Big Fat Smile, To The Moon Art, The MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art in Australia) and the lessons I began to create with a lot of practice trial and error where I’ve learned the most. My students are the ones that have taught me the most.
Lately, there are also fabulous recourses on the Net that supply wonderful information and inspiration.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I love everything creative, music, swimming, walking, reading, children’s Books, writing, photography, nature, drawing, painting, craft, bento boxes, tea, teaching, learning… but most of all I love doing all of the above with the people I love and finding beauty in unexpected places.
On World Kids, we have spoken before about the benefits of Arts to Kids. What is your experience?
For me Art gave me a way to see the world, to relate to others, to question and observe the beauty and reflect on the issues and things I disagree with. To be a more open and tolerant being. Art is another language that somehow everyone understands the soul.
There are so many benefits children can get from doing art, for me the main ones are they keep their inherent creativity, resourcefulness, and imagination for whatever they choose to be in life with a conscious heart.
Why would you recommend parents to enroll their kids in art activities?
Confidence, creativity (NOW more than ever), flexibility, tolerance, the right to explore and create without pressure. To test, to express things words can’t, to heal, to challenge themselves, to imagine, so they can have a world of their own, self-steam, to allow them to feel and express joy throughout their creations. To allow us to see a bit more into their minds and souls.
What kind of art workshops do you offer in your studio?
In Arty Steps, we use a wide range of resources including recycled materials. This helps kids to develop a better conscious of waste and the environment, which is something I like everyone to be aware.
The Art workshops vary depending on the student’s age and interests. The main idea is to explore artists ideally contemporary or relatively recent. Inspired by their work the kids create their own piece of art.
I believe more in the process than the end result, so if there is a little detour of exploration and questions it’s more than welcome. That is the main thing, to allow kids to develop their own ideas and question everything around them.
Before opening your studio in Colombia you worked in Australia. Do you find that kids throughout the world approach art in a similar way or are there important cultural differences?
Kids are inherently creative and curious no matter where they grow up, to begin with. I find it is more the way the household system of belief and school are the ones that shape their thoughts to be either open-minded or narrow. Normally a kid who has art as something outside of school is a child that either their parents know the importance of art in a kids life or there is a passion inside a child, all I need to do is to allow it to grow and let that child find its creative path.
Where do you find inspiration in your daily life?
I loooooooove children’s books, I get some good ideas from them, a good art exhibition, a walk, an interesting talk or a simple conversation…I just try to keep my mind open for inspiration.
Instagram, Pinterest, and youtube are places where I learn how to do things I want the kids to learn. The main thing as an Art teacher is that I have to be willing to always learn new things and techniques, never stand still to give my little artist the resources they need.
Your favorite painter and Art Museum…
I have many favorite artists, my first favorite artist was Andy Warhol and that love for popular culture has remained, Peter Fischli and David Weiss because through their art I learned that play and joy could be part of the art. More recent, Rebecca Baumann, as we share a passion for the love and meaning of color, Lee-Ming Way for the soul, depth, and care that he puts into his work to produce so many beautiful emotions.
There are also many Colombian artists that I like and have been the foundation in my work like Beatriz Gonzalez and influenced by others who were my teachers like Juan Fernando Herrán, Clemencia Poveda, Daniel Castro, Elias Heim and classmates like Esteban Peña, Mateo López who have a wonderful and very interesting work. I could go on and on, as you can see but I believe this is a good starting point.
My favorite Museum in the whole wide world is The Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia for many, many reasons. The care and effort they put on every exhibition, the way the staff is cared for and looked after. It’s an ethical and very open-minded art institution that allows everyone in there to grow. It was my happy place for a while and if you have a chance go and see it and say hi to all the loving and super talented people who are part of it, please do.
Your studio is located in Bogotá. What activities, Museums, shops, restaurants..would you recommend to families visiting Colombia?
When it comes to museums, the Gold Museum, The Donación Botero, and the Miguel Urrutia are a must. There is also the MAMBO and National Museum. Regarding the gallery scene, the barrio San Felipe is a great place to go galleries like Flora, Instituto de Visión and Casa4arte are some of the great galleries you’ll find showing fantastic Contemporary Art. There are lots to choose from.
I’ll tell you the places I go more often, Cafes there is a little place called Polkadot Pastelería, is a little bakery, they make great Chai and their cakes are to die for and if you’re into Chocolate mousse look no further. For Brunch Canasto, Abasto or Ugly American are our favorites. One of my friends recently introduced me to a dumplings place that is delicious and very affordable called Wù. When it comes to Colombian food I recommend going to La Plaza de Andres, there are a few of them throughout the city and it’s 1 restaurant that looks like a food court and you can choose food from different regions around Colombia in a very nice and quirky environment.
Shop wise there are three that I really like Shuz Shuz which are handcrafted notebooks and beautiful screen-printed objects. The other place I looove is Tybso “vajillas“. They make the most beautiful plates, and china you can dream of. It’s like entering Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory only its china. Oh and shoes wise its Bendita seas. They have every color of the rainbow and the shoe points are rounded, just how I like my shoes to be round and colorful.
Throughout the year there are a couple of markets that show some interesting products like, Buro and Eva. At the beginning of December Expo-artesanías, this is a fair which gathers artisans and craftsmen from all over Colombia and international guest t show their beautiful work. It’s massive! I most definitely advise you to see this.
Colombia has beautiful landscapes that change as you drive through, getting to know this country by car is the best advice I can give you. I hope you enjoy the Colombian adventure and thank you World Kids for this opportunity to share a bit of what I do and the things I love and enjoy.