“Three years ago at Art Basel week, I was at an event and they were selling more real estate than artwork; it was not much of an exhibition at all. I thought then that there should be an exhibit for kids, solely of [art by] kids,” says Ashley Sidman, the founder of "Wonder" and a mother of two children, aged 2 and 7.
“I love what kids create... [Their art is] whimsical and dreamlike, and it comes from an internal and soulful place. It’s also cute and colorful. I love putting up my daughter’s artwork in the house, and I thought that would be an amazing idea.”
"Wonder," which operates as a nonprofit organization, will present at least 100 works of all sizes and mediums by young artists who are donating their art. The show has accepted works in ceramics, painting, drawing, photography, installation, sculpture, and mixed media.
With inclusivity in mind, the exhibition accepted submissions until one week before opening night. Digital art or works that couldn’t be shipped in time will be shown through projection. "Wonder" is also producing a coffee-table book of the show. Between the gallery space, digital projection, and book, every child’s submission will have a place.
Throughout the two-story gallery, "Wonder" will also display four large-scale works, including a black-light installation for children with sensory needs and the Wonder Wall of Fame, which displays portraits of celebrities drawn by their kids. Confirmed participants include Bruce Willis and Emma Heming, Chris and Adrienne Bosh, and Giada De Laurentiis. The portraits will be auctioned off along with other chosen works by various artists.
Any Basel-time exhibition wouldn’t be complete without an opening-night party. Wednesday night, the show's ambassador, 11-year-old artist Aelita Andre from Melbourne, will play a violin attached to one of her mixed-media paintings. Miami’s own DJ Irie will spin tunes while young artist Rodrigo Barrera gives a painting performance. Visitors can also browse the artwork as they listen to curated playlists with Silent Disco.
All proceeds from ticket sales and auctions of artwork will benefit the charity Youth Entrepreneurs, which introduces elective business and entrepreneurship curriculums to schools across the nation. “All entrepreneurs are artists,” Sidman says.
She hopes the art week crowd will be drawn to a showcase of the innate creativity of children. “['Wonder'] is a dreamlike place where anything goes... I think that all of our kids are artists because they all have these visions, dreams, and hopes... These kids are incredible talents. They can do so much more than people realize. People will walk away [from 'Wonder'] and have so much to say about what kids can do.”
"Wonder." 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, December 5, through Saturday, December 8, at Paramount Worldcenter, 1010 NE Second Ave., Miami; facebook.com. Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for kids, and free for children 5 and under. Opening-night tickets cost $250.