Kid vid curator: art picks by Rion Nakaya of TKSST
Got some kids, nieces, nephews or other little ones in your life? You’ll wanna keep reading. For today’s new 5+5, Rion Nakaya is choosing art, answering our Qs, and giving us a million ways to inspire, educate, and entertain the pint-sized humans we hang out with. (And TBH, fully-grown folks, too.) A super savvy design strategist, digital content curator, video producer, and self-described digital flâneuse, Nakaya was 20x200’s Design Director back in the day. She’s also the Founder, Editor and sole curator of The Kid Should See This—a Webby award-winning treasure trove of hand-picked video gems and an indispensable resource for parents and teachers.
TKSST’s growing library of over 5,000 “not-made-for-kids, but perfect for them” videos is unlike anything else on the internet. When classrooms moved online at the start of the pandemic, TKSST’s traffic almost tripled. That’s because the site’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), history, and culture-oriented content addressed an urgent need for parents and educators. Nakaya unearths and pre-screens everything herself, so visitors can rest assured all the videos are smart, kind, safe, and engaging. Sounds amazing, right? Right, so sign up for TKSST’s newsletter and get those videos delivered straight to your inbox. Or ever better: become a member. TKSST is reader-supported and ad-free.
Before you get completely absorbed in TKSST’s video collection, read on for her art-centric video recs and her 20x200 print picks—all of which would look awesome in a kid’s room, if you ask us. — Team 20x200
5 Perfect Picks
1) Peacock by Ohara Koson
We have a wild leucistic peacock in our neighborhood. Online, neighbors share the bird’s whereabouts a few times a week so that kids and adults might see it in person. Spotting it feels like discovering a mythical creature; it is regal and luminous in the bright LA sun. This woodblock print captures that fantastical quality, but with added texture and history, like a page out of an old Japanese storybook.
2) Montgomery St, 2225-2303, Tivoli, NY by Pete Mauney
The very first time I saw fireflies, they were darting around a Louisiana field at sunset. I wasn’t expecting them so I wasn’t sure if my eyes were tricking me. It felt more unsettling and magical than explainable. This particular print, with the fiery light and that dark window in the distance, gives me that same feeling—a sort of anticipation.
3) Balsa planes #4 by Paul Madonna
I bought this print a few years ago. I love the haphazard energy in its angles and the irreverent nod to the overpainted paper planes. It feels determined, whimsical, and a bit wistful.
4) Views of the extravehicular activity during STS 41-B, a 20x200 Space Edition
I think about the Overview Effect a lot—that shift in perspective that astronauts feel when they see the beauty and fragility of our home planet floating alone in the vastness of space. This image of astronaut Bruce McCandless floating untethered from the shuttle gives me a hint of that feeling. He looks fragile out there, yet it’s such a ‘dare mighty things’ moment.
5) Dinosaurs at The American Museum of Natural History by Jason Polan
I love the steady rhythm of ribs and vertebrae in this drawing. There’s something about the line art that makes it approachable, yet complex at the same time. And so visually striking. Also: Dinosaurs are the best.
5 Q's + 5 A's
1) What's your favorite museum?
In 2003, we flew from NYC to London specifically to see The Weather Project by Olafur Eliasson. I'll never forget the feeling of walking out of the cold and wet—that British winter blue light—into the warm wash of oranges inside Tate Modern's Turbine Hall. I love how immersive installations can be in that immense space.
Oakland Museum of California is smaller, but its heart and soul are immense, too. The exhibits are vibrant and conscientious, and the community that they’ve fostered is wonderful. I miss gathering there for music and food trucks on Friday nights.
I suspect that if I ever get to visit The Teshima Art Museum, it will join the list.
2) What's your most coveted coffee table book?
Maybe James Turrell: Extraordinary Ideas―Realized or John Pawson’s Anatomy of Minimum. My coffee table books are mostly natural history books right now; The University of Chicago Press’ 'Life-Size Guide' series and DK’s Smithsonian Natural History: The Ultimate Visual Guide to Everything on Earth are favorites. Christoph Niemann’s Sunday Sketching gets looked at a lot in our house, too.
3) Do you prefer a single statement piece or a salon wall?
One giant statement piece.
4) You've got $5m you have to spend on one piece of art. What would it be?
If I had that kind of money, honestly, I’d spend it on a high-impact clean energy project… something powerful that can motivate a rapid shift in thinking.
5) TKSST is an amazing resource for teachers and parents seeking smart, cool, fun, kid-friendly (free!) videos from all corners of the internet. Can you give us a taste—maybe a few exemplary selects—of some of the art-oriented content you've excavated?
The Brooklyn Museum made a video about Kehinde Wiley’s work a few years ago, and I’m always thrilled to hear from teachers who have shared it with their students.
The mourning and tribute within Motoi Yamamoto’s ephemeral salt drawings: I think I could watch him work for hours.
A time-lapse of Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing 797 is also one of my favorites. I love that it’s so accessible and changes the way kids and adults might think about our relationships with each other.
Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, No. 2 is a deceivingly simple installation, but there’s so much in the ways it makes people move through it.
I watched Sara Berman’s Closet from The New Yorker a few years ago and think of it often.
MoMA created an 8-part ‘At the Museum’ documentary series that I enjoyed. They're so methodical in their work.
The 411 on Rion Nakaya
Rion Nakaya loves storytelling, sustainable tech, well-designed spaces, and wandering the halls of small museums. She’s produced educational videos for kids, curated kid-friendly digital content, and mixed brand strategy and UX design into interactive projects for museums, digital collections, Fortune 100 clients, and startups. (And 20x200!)
Now in Los Angeles, Rion has lived in Paris, London, DC, NYC, and Oakland, California where she founded ‘The Kid Should See This’ in 2011. TKSST is a Webby Award-winning collection of 5,000+ kid-friendly videos, curated for teachers and parents who want to share smarter, more meaningful media in the classroom and at home.