Gerd Dierckx, born in Mortsel in 1955, is the founder and driving force of Rasa. In 1978, she began her career as an art educator at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. In the 10 years she worked there, she developed a holistic art approach that invites children to experience art with all their senses.
She took on a new challenge in 1988, at the municipal museum of Sint-Niklaas, where—as curator-educator—she created the first museum exhibitions for children in Belgium: ‘Colour’ and ‘Line’. Here, her desire grew to show art beyond museums and galleries, in order to reach more children in an inclusive way.
In 1992, she founded Rasa together with artist friends who shared her inspiration and passion for children and art. Over 30 years, Gerd and her team developed a wide range of travelling exhibitions of contemporary art for children. These exhibitions were shown in various places in Belgium and abroad, in co-operation with museums and cultural centres, to reach as many children as possible. Each exhibition was a creative cross-pollination between artists and professionals in the field. Click on artists to follow the people who participated in the Rasa exhibitions.
Today, Gerd’s aim remains to convey the gift and spark of art to children from the most diverse backgrounds. She creates opportunities to meet art in ways that allow the voice of each child to be heard. The power of imagination enables children to develop new perspectives and connect with the world in different ways. She believes the seeds of art can truly blossom in the life of every child.
“Gerd Dierckx has a very distinctive vision of art education, which can be concisely summarised as respect for both artist and child. I have not met many people who deal so purely with both forces. The power of art, combined with the intense power of the child’s imagination.”
CATRIEN SCHREUDER, Head of Collections and Exhibitions Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, The Netherlands
❥ art education
Children look at the world before they start drawing their first scribbles and stick figures. Looking helps children to find their place in the world that surrounds them. Children absorb their surroundings like sponges. Everything is new, everything is fascinating, whether it is natural or made by human hands.
The art education we offer encourages children to experience art with their own heart and soul, mind and body, and all their senses. It is an approach that enables children to come into contact with the best the art world has to offer, in artistic surroundings. It is an approach for all children, including those who rarely — if ever — get the chance to engage with culture.
❥ Art curation
For Rasa, Gerd has curated 30 contemporary art exhibitions particularly for a public of children. An overview of these exhibitions can be found here. Through this experience she has developed very specific expertise — on the one hand, in selecting and bringing together artworks, and on the other, in mediating between art, artist and the young audience. She has a special feel for encouraging artists how to invite the audience to engage deeply with their work. She is also regularly asked to curate exhibitions for museums that want to attract a young audience. Here are some examples:
❥ In 1988 and 1989, she developed and curated ‘Colour’ and ‘Line’ for the Sint-Niklaas municipal museum in Belgium. These exhibitions showed original artworks by David Hockney, Pablo Picasso and Karel Appel, among others.
❥ In 2016, she advised and co-created ‘Kids ok‘ in the Museum Boijmans-Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Work from Bruce Nauman, Rineke Dijkstra, Ted van Lieshout, Edgar Degas and others were shown in a playful environment.
❥ In 2021, at the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht, The Netherlands, Gerd curated a cross-pollination between Rasa’s exhibition ‘SKIN‘ and works by Luc Tuymans, Marlene Dumas, Bruce Nauman and others, from the museum’s collection.
“Gerd is devoted to developing new artistic interventions to help enrich children and youth. Her techniques encourage children to explore identity and feelings through art and creative interventions and she shares these techniques freely in places that otherwise would not have access to such visionary thinking or approaches.“
LIZ BROWN, Madaboutart, South Africa
❥ Coaching art projects for social change
Gerd Dierckx is especially touched by the lives of children in disadvantaged circumstances. Therefore, in a new chapter of her life, she wants to develop community art projects in South Africa. In recent years, she has worked as a volunteer in townships where women in particular work to address the needs of children in their communities. Gerd loves building bridges, providing structures and inspiring youth leaders to engage in new ways of creative learning. Now retired, she is happy to share her time, her knowledge, her network and the Art Suite as a meeting place. From there, art projects for social change can grow.
❥ Since 1997, she has supported and advised the community project MADaboutART, in the Nekkies community in Knysna. Beaty Jonas, who has developed a strong bond over the years with Rasa, is the driving force of this project.
❥ At the Prince Albert POP Centre in the Karoo, different activities were introduced:
- Educational materials were developed and women were coached for a new preschool project in their community.
- Young volunteers were coached in the theme of Connection with the Earth.
- For ‘Connection‘, San elders were interviewed for a film about our relationship with the earth.