Inviting Children to Leave Their Mark


Inviting Children to Leave Their Mark

March 23, 2022

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Art Project Invites Children to Use Their Imagination and Self-Expression

When looking for new art for her office, Executive Director Kate Treiber went straight to the people who know imagination and creativity best: children.

At the Children’s Museum of South Dakota, imagination is as big as our skies.

We believe that when children use their imagination and creativity, they will discover and learn so much more about the world around them.

In early 2019, Executive Director Kate Treiber was looking to refresh the walls in her office and add some art that would offer wonder and inspiration.

This idea turned into the beginning of a unique art project that not only offered children the opportunity to be creative and grow but also a platform to express themselves and show their work to a broader audience.

Project Definition

Kate issued a Request for Proposal for an art project focusing on the theme, “Building a Sense of Wonder and Play” to the Kidoodle Council Youth Advisory Board.

Artists were asked to use textiles, fiber, and/or mixed media in a small- to medium-sized piece of art to be installed in the Maker Studio and in Kate’s office.  

Young girl sitting at a table across from a middle-aged woman each smiling and discussing some pieces of handmade art on a table
Artist Maisie talks with Executive Director Kate Treiber about her art project.

Three projects, one including 3 members of the Kidoodle Council, were presented to Kate. The presenters used PowerPoint and sample prototypes to show how the project would come to life. 

Because each project had unique attributes that “Built a Sense of Wonder and Play,” they each were selected to continue in the artistic process and won the RFP. 

Creating in the Maker Studio

The artists took their prototypes and plans and worked directly with Kate and Director of Education Carrie Benson to further refine and create their art pieces in the Museum’s Maker Studio 

The Children’s Museum of South Dakota supports learning by offering a playful environment where creativity can flourish. This happens when the following needs are met:

  • When children have enough time and space to focus on the creative process rather than the product,
  • When a variety of materials and resources are available to invite exploration, and
  • When grown-ups ask provocative questions that spark imagination and encourage conversation.

The artists worked hard after school and on weekends to finish their projects. Upon completion of their installations, each artist received a small stipend for sharing their creative artwork. 

Boy weaving yellow yarn using a hula hoop as a frame sitting at a wooden table in an art studio
Connor works on his weaving art project in the Maker Studio of the Children’s Museum of South Dakota.

The art pieces are rotated each year. Two pieces are installed in the 2nd floor Maker Studio, and the other piece is on the wall in Kate’s office.

“Having these unique pieces of artwork visible in my office and in our Maker Studio will remind me to open my eyes (and heart) to the possibilities of the day, to the beautiful potential children bring to our spaces, and to the important work I must do to help inspire these possibilities and potential,” said Kate.

The artists also had the opportunity to unveil their work at the Kidoodle Council Year-end Celebration and Open House in December 2019. 

About the Installations

Following are descriptions of each piece of art, along with photos of the process. To view the art in person, stop by and Play Along with us!

The Thwink Emoji, by artist Connor Kroschel

The “Thwink Emoji” is a nod to Kate’s two favorite emojis and describes a myriad of ways that people can express themselves when they play and wonder.

Connor wanted to ensure that his piece was original and personally reflected Kate’s interests as “the client.” Therefore, he interviewed her to see what her two favorite emojis were.

He used originality to combine the two emojis into a large weaving that took many hours and much persistence to finish. To Kate, this persistence showed.

“Connor’s piece taught me that emotion can have everything to do with the way we see and experience our world.”

“When we take the time to get to know one another,” said Kate, “we just might see the world a little differently through their eyes.”

Astronauts and Ice Cream, by artists Devrah, Giobbe, and Miriam Meyer

Created by a team of artists (and siblings) Devrah, Giobbe, and Miriam Meyer, “Astronauts and Ice Cream” highlights each child’s representation of play and wonder in a fun way.

This piece used a current event, the 50th-anniversary celebration of the moon landing, to celebrate 3 unique ways the artists viewed the historic event.

Their artistic collaboration brought to life the fun and playful nature of sibling connections while honoring individuality.

“Watching this trio work together confirmed my belief that when there is collaboration and compromise, there is also joy in the things we create together,” Kate said about the art.

Fun on the Prairie, by artist Maisie Mogard

This art piece exhibits dimensions and perspectives in a creative way showing how young children use questions and fun to explore the Children’s Museum of South Dakota’s own museum prairie.

When asked what play and wonder mean to her Maisie shared, “Wonder means to be asking questions, and play means to be having fun with something you’re using. I’m showing wonder in this picture by placing the small child in the middle while everything else around it is big. I’m showing play in this picture by placing some children in the Cloud Climber, some in the Tipi, and some pumping the water pump under the windmill.”

“Maisie’s piece shows me that there is a whole big world out there to discover if only we open our eyes to its wonder and potential,” said Kate.

Would you like to see the art for yourself?