Giselle and Josiah Fuerte, West Seattle parents of three, wanted to support their 4-year-old son’s growing interest in making art with a little art history. But when Giselle searched for a few examples of artwork by famous artists, she was dismayed by the limited information available on artists of color.
“I couldn’t, at that time, think of even one black or brown abstract artist who is touted as a master,” says Giselle, who earned her master’s in education. “I realized then that the art classes I took in high school and college, and even what we learn about art through popular media, focuses, almost exclusively, on European art.”
The couple, who had successfully launched Real Life Bricks, a monthly subscription box of racially/ethnically diverse LEGO minifigures, decided to design an art subscription box that more fully reflected the diversity of our world. Enter the Real Life Artist subscription box.
Each month, kids receive a box with a history guide and art supplies thematically connected to a different artist from around the globe. One month they may learn about Indian Mahajanapadas relief art in 600 BCE, another, the contemporary South African artist Nelson Makamo. The Creator Box is designed for one child, while the Family Box includes materials for up to four kids.
Kids can experiment with creating abstract art, mixed media, painting on canvas, and combining found objects. The clay, pens, paintbrushes, colored pencils, markers, acrylic paint, watercolors and pastels necessary for each lesson all come in the box.
Children can share photos of their artwork with other kids online as part of the private Real Life Artist community. In addition to providing a fun, creative experience, the Fuertes hope their Real Life Artist box can broaden horizons and be a source of pride for kids of color.
“Not learning about and taking inspiration from masters, past and present, from across the entire globe does us all a disservice. The resulting holes in our knowledge don’t allow us to have pride in the contributions of our ancestors, to truly be global citizens,” says Giselle. “The world of art education generally and woefully falls short when it comes to diversity and inclusion.”