Human Landscape with Kids

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Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s larger-than-life "Human Landscape" exhibit at Cheekwood and the Frist Center invites thoughtful interaction among kids and adults.

One of the many things so wonderful about visual art is the way each individual sees it, interprets it and experiences it no matter your age. Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s spectacular Human Landscape exhibit is no exception. With eight outdoor installations (as well as indoor pieces) at Cheekwood through Sunday, Nov. 1 and four installations at the Frist Center through Monday, Sept. 7, Plensa’s work features human sculptures that explore spirituality, beauty and the relationship between humanity and nature.

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Plensa’s “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” installation at the Frist Center.

The artist incorporates letters from several alphabets and words from many languages in many of his pieces. In “Thoughts” (pictured above), Plensa’s figure sits in a meditative pose and the words swirling around the stainless steel figure were inspired by British poet William Blake.

You might be thinking an exhibit of this nature is too grown up for children to enjoy. On the contrary. The Human Landscape visuals are stunning, and kids can touch the sculptures gently on Cheekwood’s grounds.

“Children and adults are welcome to gently caress Plensa’s outdoor sculptures, feel and hear vibrations when striking gongs in an installation piece, and visit our Learning Gallery to explore books and poetry related to Spanish culture,” says Shannon Hautman, director of education and programs at Cheekwood. “We have found that children are especially drawn to Plensa’s iconic ‘The Heart of Trees,’ an outdoor installation. The work features seven bronze seated figures based on the artist’s self-portrait to scale, and they are the perfect height for our young visitors — they can get up close and softly touch them while playing in a natural setting. It’s a magical thing to see!” she adds.

Rosemary Brunton, associate educator for community engagement at the Frist, says it’s easy to make the exhibit fun for kids. “Plensa’s sculptures provide a fun way for children to make looking at art a game! Parents are encouraged to have their children self-identify with the body forms they see in the galleries and to connect by using their own faces or bodies to mimic the mood of the sculptures,” Brunton says.

Cheekwood hours are Tue – Sun 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Cheekwood stays open until 10 p.m. Thursdays this month during its Family Night Out concert series (at 6:30 p.m.). It’s cool to see the sculptures illuminated at night. Cheekwood’s also open until 9 p.m. on the first Friday, July – October, during Spanish Nights featuring music, poetry readings and more. Admission is $14 adults, $7 ages 3 – 17. Call 615-356-8000 or visit

The Frist is open Mon – Wed and Sat 10 a.m. – 5: 30 p.m., Sun 1 – 5:30 p.m., Thu – Fri 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Admission is $12 adults, free ages 18 and younger. Call 615-244-3340 or visit

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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