Maria Brito on introducing kids to contemporary art

A bright yellow nursery by Maria Brito, photo by David Lewis Taylor

We were thrilled to sit down earlier this fall with the exceptional lifestyling expert, interior designer and art adviser (not to metion mom of two and frequent contributor to Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP newsletter) Maria Brito to get her perspective on how to incorporate contemporary art into kids' spaces. We are completely inspired by her mission to encourage kids to grow around great works of art and creativity. Read our full interview below and be sure to download the app the Maria designed just for kids all about Frida Kahlo, her life and her work. We love the super cute graphics and great educational content!

Maria in her office. Photo by David Lewis Taylor.

LC: How do you recommend incorporating art into children's spaces? Is there a type of framing (or facemounting) that is best for kids and their messy fingers? And what height is good for hanging kids' art?

MB: For kids I always think bright, beautiful and playful.  Photography and prints are the best to get this effect.  I like the kind of Plexiglas that can actually be touched and cleaned with a bit of water and soap.  It’s the most kid-friendly material as long as they don’t scratch it.  The perfect height is that where kids who are still too young (say younger than four) can’t easily reach.  For example, this is perfectly doable if a piece is hanging on top of a dresser or chest of drawers.

LC: How can parents make kids comfortable about contemporary art so that it's not only a decoration in their rooms but also a part of their creative development?

MB: The best way is talking to them about what is depicted in the artwork and also about the artist and the creative process.  I also love to make my kids create stories around the art that we have because that’s exactly the point of living with it, to stimulate the mind and the heart so people can have a million different interpretations about a specific piece and they can coincide or not with what the artist wanted to express.

LC:  When choosing art for kids, is it better to go with something the kids will love now (but that might be heavy on the pink) or with a more challenging piece that they can grow into?

MB: It depends on the age of the kids.  Maybe if they are really young, get to choose and are infatuated with pink or any other color, they can have that until they decide to get something that they can live with for a longer period of time. Sentimentally though, that piece should really be preserved as the first in that child’s collection so that when he or she is an adult they can look back and see how his/her taste has evolved over time.

Two Fridas by Robin Schwartz

LC: Do you remember  being inspired by art as a kid and if so which work(s)?

MB: Yes, I was inspired by Frida Kahlo’s works and because of that a few years ago I bought a mixed-media collage from the French artist Corinne Dalle-Ore where Frida’s portrait is incorporated in full splendor.  I also designed and created an Ipad/Iphone App about the story of Frida completely adapted for young kids.  I’m very proud of how it came out.  Check it out here.


LC: If you could hang any piece of art from art history over your mantle (from a renaissance fresco to a Jenny Holzer) what would it be?

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Mitchell Crew” but it will have to be a huge mantel, since this piece is about 11 feet long!

Learn more about Maria and catch her great videos and blog on her website, here.

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