Kidsplosure teaches kids how to be creative and enjoy art

pseligson@newsobserver.comMay 18, 2014 

Correction: This story incorrectly reported that Camden Kima, 6, of Wake Forest is a girl. Camden is a boy.

RALEIGH - Dogs, strollers and kids with face paint are usual festival sights. But how about plastic jellyfish, a piano and a giant caterpillar puppet?

As Artsplosure unfolded in downtown Raleigh this weekend with booths of handmade crafts, children had a chance to explore art in their own space at Kidsplosure. This kid-focused part of the annual festival included handfuls of hands-on arts and crafts at Moore Square. Instead of buying someone else’s art, children could make their own art to bring home.

“It’s awesome that they have all the cool stuff you can do,” said Camden Kima, 6, of Wake Forest, as he finished up his “Silly Jelly.” Camden made a jellyfish from half of a used plastic bottle, with colorful ribbons hanging down from the rim and a paperclip as a hook. Camden said he would hang it up by his bed.

“We love Artsplosure,” said his mom, Jennifer, 42. “We try to come every year. And this,” she said, pointing toward the jelly fish, “is a reason for them to come with me.”

Artsplosure usually brings about 75,000 people to downtown Raleigh. Program director Terri Dollar didn’t have final numbers by Sunday afternoon, but was confident that the festival had a record attendance this year.

‘Artists of tomorrow’

Dollar said Kidsplosure is a chance to help kids try art they might not think they can do. “Kidsplosure to us is all about planting seeds for the artists of tomorrow,” she said.

Items being crafted included a fish windsock, bead necklaces and a paper crab. A piano painted like a sunset sat in the middle of the square, with looping letters on top telling players, “It’s never too late to love who you are.” A mix of music prevailed, with two stages on either end of the square producing sounds ranging from country music to jazz.

Kids could also play with larger-than-life puppets, including frog and baboon masks. One of those puppets was a familiar sight at the festival: a huge green caterpillar.

At one point, about 20 children and parents stood inside to walk it through the crowds like a Chinese New Year dragon. Kids could put their arms in the mandibles on the face to move them back and forth as a drummer played in the front to clear the way.

Breathless afterward, Jacob West-Ringler, 7, of Raleigh knew exactly what to say as he crawled out from under the caterpillar: “It was really cool!”

Nevaeh Robinson, 11, of Durham also loved the puppets. She loved Kidsplosure because, she said, “I really like art and there’s activities for kids.” And her mom, Lakisha Robinson, 41, liked the lessons learned at the event: not just creativity, but also entrepreneurship.

“It shows how to be creative themselves,” Robinson said. “If they want to make it, they can see how easy it is to make it.”

Connie Harrison, 43, of Wendell played in the caterpillar with her son, Miles, 6. “It’s awesome,” she said of Kidsplosure. “It gets them engaged in other things and not just on their hand-helds.”

Katelyn O’Brien, 5, of Raleigh stood with her mom as a helper finished stapling together her windsock: She drew hearts all along her paper fish.

Katelyn had a solid reason for making the craft: “They will tell you if it’s windy or not.” Her favorite part? “That I get to design it however I want to.”

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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