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Bangkok Faces: Abida Phornruangsap, Founder, Pop Up Art Studio Bangkok

Your Name: Abida Phornruangsap

Job Title: Founder of Pop Up Art Studio Bangkok 

What is your nationality and background?

I am Vietnamese-Thai. Born in Vietnam, educated and worked internationally, I’ve lived in Thailand for over 20 years now. Like many of us, I consider myself a global citizen at heart!

What is your profession?

I am a visual art specialist and curriculum designer. I have been exploring early childhood education for over 2 decades, with a focus on the role visual art plays the process of learning in a school or studio setting. But, honestly, I love all things related to art, design, and food!

What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?

I mainly design and construct learning environments for the children to engage in creative processes through the languages of art. I also collaborate with teachers and educators to plan and implement opportunities for interdisciplinary learning. It takes a lot of project management skills, as well as technical art and design skills, and of course a lot of creative thinking. 

How did you get involved in your profession?

Having always had an eye for design, I fell into it as a profession. It originally started when I volunteered at my nephew’s school in Tokyo when I was asked to help create a unique learning environment connected to art. 

Because we have a multicultural family, and my nieces and nephews grew up in Asia, Europe and North America,  I was intrigued by the cultural diversity in the field of education and how each society has very specific expectations from the children. My journey began there, using art as the non-verbal bridge between cultures. To this day I am very curious about how children learn and express themselves.  

How does your role enhance the wellbeing or experience of children?

The beautiful thing about children is that they never stop learning. Most of us think that children learn from adults and teachers are expected to “teach” the children what they don’t know.  What I discovered in the last 20 years is that children learn with or without us. They learn from each other and from the world around them. My role is to offer environments and experiences where these ordinary encounters segue into a lifetime of learning.

What challenges do your face in this role?

I have been very fortunate to work with teachers, educators, and parents who share the same vision. The biggest change for us as a society is the willingness to change our ways of thinking. To understand and accept that our knowledge is limited and each child has the right to learn in his/her own time. And most of all, that they deserve our respect and support for the choices they make in their own learning journeys. 

What do you hope to achieve within your industry?

I believe learning is not confined to schools. I hope to create a community of learning for both children and adults where people from different professional backgrounds can meet and discuss ways to offer opportunities for us all to explore our own personal identities and prepare ourselves for the future. 

Who or what inspires you?

I find I am often incredibly inspired by nature and the natural world. I’ve learnt that everything is connected. With the right conditions, the seeds will grow and bloom in their own time.  Every plant has its own identity and each leaf is different even if they are from the same tree. There are invisible communication happening all around us, we just need to learn to pay attention and listen with all our senses. All these aspects are part of my daily encounters with the children and help make me a better observer. 

Only a Bangkok local would know… The calm spots hidden in the urban chaos! One of my favourite is Met Cafe on Thonglor, which serves the best honey margaritas in town! Their beautiful place is always full of exotic floral arrangements and plants – a treat for all your senses and an oasis in Bangkok’s urban jungle.

For more info on classes and programs, please visit Pop Up Art Studio’s facebook page

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