Small world: Artist, Aventura Mall partner to display art at children’s height

The Aventura Mall center court filled with about 50 children and their families. Instead of shopping, they spent time together watching a puppet show, reading, doing arts-and-crafts, learning who Jackson Pollock was and appreciating art that was displayed at the kids’ eye level.

“We decided to come be part of this wonderful activity because it’s never too early for children to be introduced to art,” said Michelle Bassett-Ruben who brought her 2-year-old Bradley Ruben. “He has loved every minute of it so far.”

The mall partnered with artist Christine Lyall, who created “Just My Height Art Shows” in 2013. Her curated shows are displayed at 36 inches high, making the art accessible to children.

Lyall said her inspiration for this was watching a father and son at an art show. She noticed how the young boy was “tippy-toeing and trying really hard to see the art” but because of his height could not properly enjoy it.

“Children deserve to be able to immerse themselves into art,” said Lyall. “I love to see them appreciating it, without pretension or judgment like some adults might have.”

The art exhibition and interactive art and craft stations were aimed to promote literacy and numeracy in the children.

Artist Annie Chaskalson displayed some of her work at the exhibition.

“I am here because of my 2½-year-old grandson, who actually helped me paint one of the pieces in this show. He told me where to put lizards, ants, bumblebees and butterflies. We created this piece together. There are hidden objects,” said Chaskalson. “I thought it was a piece that fit very well with this theme.”

Fifty percent of the proceeds of the pieces sold will benefit Miami-Dade Family Learning Partnership and The Children’s Trust.

The smART Gallery Exhibition ran March 7 to 11, but families who missed it can still participate in the mall’s “Kids Club,” where children enjoy an educational performance and participate on hands-on activities. Kids Club is once a month on a Thursday at 10 a.m. at the mall Rainbow Valley Playground.

“This event was an extension of our Kids’ Club. Literacy is really at the core of our program, there’s always an education component not just a performance. We want the children of the community to walk away with something learned.” said Anabel Llopis, senior director of marketing for Aventura Mall.

The event was not only open to the public but schools around the community brought students on a field trip to the smART Gallery.

“With the success that we are seeing, we will probably repeat this next year and take it to another level,” said Llopis.

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