Posts tagged
with kids


An Animated Short Film by Martin Smatana Explores Loss Through Lighthearted Symbolism

December 27, 2022

Kate Mothes

A brisk wind takes a young kite-flyer on an unexpected voyage with his grandfather in a poignant short film by illustrator and animation director Martin Smatana. The narrative of the stop-motion animation addresses the concept of death and loss through metaphor that is accessible to children, using the kite, weather, and materials as symbolic ways to broach a difficult yet important topic. “It explores the relationship between a little boy and his grandpa and shows that death is a natural part of life, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of our journey,” Smatana explains. He continues:

They are both made out of layers, which symbolize their age. The boy has many of these layers… he has all his life before him. But grandfather, on the other hand, has already lost most of his layers, and he has only few left. As he gets older, he also gets thinner, and at the end of his life, he is as thin as a sheet of paper. One day, the wind just softly blows him away and takes him up to the sky…

Smatana and his team scoured second-hand shops in his hometown of Prague to collect textiles and other materials to build the sets, employing different patterns and color palettes to represent the four seasons. A quilt-like landscape created from numerous pieces of cloth references a patchwork blanket that the artist remembers sleeping under when he visited his own grandparents’ house.

Created for the artist’s graduation project at FAMU Film School three years ago, “The Kite” has won more than sixty international awards, was nominated for the semifinals of the student Oscars, and is included in the film library of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Explore more of Smatana’s work on his website, where he also shares behind-the-scenes footage of how “The Kite” was made. Follow updates on Instagram.


A still from the short film "The Kite" showing a young boy and his grandfather sitting on clouds.

All images © Martin Smatana, shared with permission

An animated excerpt from "The Kite" in which a young boy and his grandfather fly up into the sky with a kite.

A still from the short film "The Kite" showing a young boy and his kite from the perspective of his grandfather holding his hands.

An animated excerpt from the short film "The Kite" portraying a young boy visiting his grandfather and being given a kite.

A still from the animated short film "The Kite" showing a patchwork countryside and road with a school bus on it.

A still from the short film "The Kite" showing a darkening sky and a young boy holding onto his grandfather who appears to be floating away.





A Scottish Town’s Annual Competition Invites Its Youngest Artists to Design ‘Wonky’ Holiday Lights

December 21, 2022

Kate Mothes

A photograph of a holiday light display on an electrical pole that was produced from a kid's drawing of a reindeer.

All images courtesy of Newburgh Action Group

For more than 20 years, the town of Newburgh in Fife, Scotland, has marked the holiday season with a wonderfully wonky tradition. Each autumn, young residents are invited to submit original sketches of Christmas decorations to a competition, and once a winning design is selected, Blachere Illumination transforms the work into an LED sculpture that’s then displayed throughout the town. The newest light is a salmon nicknamed “Happy Nemo” that sports a red hat, and the menagerie also features a “reinduck,” a cheerful piece of candy in a green wrapper with arms and legs, and a dinosaur with a star on its head.


A photograph of a holiday light display on an electrical pole that was produced from a kid's drawing of a salmon with a hat on.

Two photographs of a holiday light display on electrical poles that were produced from kids' drawings of snowmen.

A photograph of a holiday light display on an electrical pole that was produced from a kid's drawing of a dinosaur with a star on its head.

Two photographs of a holiday light display on electrical poles that were produced from kids' drawings of a snowman with a scarf on and a penguin with a hat on.

A photograph of a holiday light display on an electrical pole that was produced from a kid's drawing of a Christmas tree.

A photograph of a holiday light display on an electrical pole that was produced from a kid's drawing of a piece of candy with arms and legs and a smiling face.




A Photographer Captures a Dwindling Herd of Elephant Slides Across Taiwan

September 23, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Pi Cheng Hsiu, shared with permission

Wander into a playground in Taiwan, and you might stumble upon an elephant in the midst of basketball courts and swingsets. Vintage slides shaped like the lumbering animal were once popular in the country, and although the equipment is generally out of use because it doesn’t match current regulations, the eclectic designs remain a fixture in both abandoned and thriving playgrounds. Photographer Pi Cheng Hsiu documents these quirky creations by the hundreds—in addition to similarly shaped animals like seahorses and giraffes—and you can find a vast array of colors and styles on Instagram. You also might enjoy these elephants squeezed into tight spots. (via Present & Correct)




Art History

Archaeologists Uncover Children’s Hand and Foot Prints in What’s Thought to Be the Oldest Cave Art To Date

September 16, 2021

Grace Ebert

Image via Science Bulletin

A series of hand and foot impressions uncovered in the Quesang village in the Tibetan Plateau might rewrite the art-historical timeline. According to an article published this month in Science Bulletin, researchers believe the ancient prints were made between 169,000 and 226,000 years ago and appear to be placed intentionally, cementing the notion that they’re the earliest examples of cave art yet to be uncovered. 

Of course, there’s plenty of debate over whether these impressions are art, although archaeologists arguing for the categorization are staking their claims on intent. “​It is the composition, which is deliberate, the fact the traces were not made by normal locomotion, and the care taken so that one trace does not overlap the next,” geologist Matthew Bennett told Gizmodo, rejecting the idea that the prints are a byproduct of common movement like walking or grasping nearby material for stabilization. If the impressions are considered art, they predate the prehistoric figurative findings in both Sulawesi and Lasceaux, which date back about 43,900 and 17,000 years, respectively.

Fossilized on a piece of limestone called travertine, the size and variances of the prints also indicate that they were made by two children. Archaeologists theorize that the indentations, which include five feet and five hands, were placed in mud near the Quesang Hot Spring before it compacted under pressure, or lithified, preserving the duo’s pieces in the hardened material for millennia. Although the research team isn’t sure that the creators were Homo sapiens—the timeline also aligns with the Denisovans, an extinct species from the hominin group that primarily occupied what’s now Asia—if they were, they were likely 7 and 12 years old.





Evoking Childhood Nostalgia, Color and Cartoon Commotion Burst from Kayla Mahaffey’s Paintings

September 15, 2021

Grace Ebert

“No Harm Done.” All images courtesy of Thinkspace Projects, shared with permission

Surrounding Black children with jumbled masses of cartoon characters, doodles, and explosions of color, Chicago-based artist Kayla Mahaffey (previously) imagines adolescent daydreams and an array of playtime inventions. She infuses her acrylic paintings with a longing for carefree summer days, mornings spent watching the foibles of favorite animated characters, and hours left open for adventure, capturing feelings of joy and curiosity. Vividly rendered and layered with squiggles and globs of color, the large-scale works find “value in the sugar-coated nostalgia,” which Mahaffey explains:

There have been numerous occasions where we omit the truths of our past to only be met with the disappointments of the future, a never-ending cycle that has influenced our current era for the best and the worst. Even though we’re currently going through a very troubling era, let’s take a moment to remember those times where we felt the most safe or where we felt the happiest. Many of us wish to go back to that life, but not to change anything, but to feel a few cherished things, once again.

If you’re near Culver City, you can see the pieces shown here as part of Remember the Time at Thinkspace Projects from September 18 to October 9. Otherwise, find Mahaffey on Instagram to see where she’s headed next.


“The Sweet Escape”

“Head in the Clouds”

“The Child In Us”

“Tender, Love, and Care (TLC)”

“Beautiful Day In The…”


Left: “No Public Enemy.” Right: “Kid In Play”




Art Illustration

‘Banksy Graffitied Walls and Wasn’t Sorry’ Is a Cleverly Illustrated Book Introducing Kids to the Elusive Artist

May 21, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Phaidon

Banksy Graffitied Walls and Wasn’t Sorry introduces the life and work of the anonymous street artist to some of the youngest readers. The 48-page book is cleverly written as a plainspoken autobiography, detailing both Banksy’s aesthetic sensibilities and surveying his decades-long career, including references to Dismaland, his “Better Out Than In” residency in New York, signature rats, and the subversive, overtly political messages of his pieces and antics. Illustrated in Fausto Gilberti’s whimsical style, the largely black-and-white drawings are playful and humorous and contextualize Banky’s profound impact and mysterious, unapologetic reputation in a manner fit for kids.

Published by Phaidon, Banksy Graffitied Walls and Wasn’t Sorry is Gilberti’s fourth in a series exploring the legacies of some of the most well-known artists, including Yayoi Kusama, Jackson Pollock, and Yves Klein. Shop the complete collection on Bookshop. (via Kottke)