Family Activities for Yayoi Kusama’s LIGHT OF LIFE
By Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs, and Emily Perreault, Pre-K Programs Educator
Sticker art. Something you’ll find in lots of works by Yayoi Kusuma are polka dots! Dots have appeared to her in visions since she was 10 years old, and you can find dots of light making the shape of hexagons reflected on every surface of LIGHT OF LIFE. You can create your own artwork by using circular labels to cover a piece of paper with dots. Start by making the outline of a hexagon with the stickers. Will your shape be large or small? Will it repeat across the paper? Try to make the shape with large circle stickers, and then add rows of smaller stickers around it. For another twist on this project, create your sticker patterns on a 3-D object instead of paper.
Wearable lights. Kusuma has collaborated with fashion designers to create artwork that you can wear. Create your own fashionable garment inspired by the pulsing lights in LIGHT OF LIFE using twinkle lights (those operated by a battery pack work best). Find a piece of fabric or an old piece of clothing that you can transform by cutting or poking. Use a pencil to mark where you want individual lights to poke out of the fabric; you may have to use scissors to cut a small incision in the fabric so the lights can fit through. Then, carefully place the lightbulbs through the holes so the light can shine through. Turn the lights on and strut your stuff!
Shape prints. The arrangement of the mirrored surfaces in LIGHT OF LIFE creates a sense that the repeated patterns are infinite. Create a block print you can use to make art that explores repetition. Use a piece of wood or a thick piece of cardboard as your block. Then, cut out a series of shapes from foam, Styrofoam, or more cardboard; glue these onto your block with a heavy-duty glue, like Tacky glue. When your block is dry, use a stamp pad or printing ink to saturate your shapes with color. Press them to paper or foil to create a pattern.
Shape sensory walk. The sequence of blinking lights inside LIGHT OF LIFE gives the illusion that shapes are moving into the distance. Use chalk to create a series of shapes in a driveway or sidewalk that will make you hop, step, and move. Put some of these ideas together to make your own sensory walk:
- Circles or looping lines: Test your balance by starting at one point and following the line beneath you.
- Stepping “stones”: Draw a series of circles, squares, or hexagons, and step or jump from shape to shape.
- Hurdle lines: Create a series of long parallel lines that can become hurdles to jump over.
- Grand finale: Draw a cluster of stars. When you reach the stars, make your body blink on and off like a light by throwing your hands in the air!
Self–reflections. If you peek your head inside LIGHT OF LIFE, you will see your face reflected over and over in the mirrors that make up the room. Use a mirror or other reflective surface to create your own reflective self-portrait. While holding your head still, draw with a marker directly onto the reflective surface. Draw over the features you can see, including your eyes, nose, hair, mouth, and more. What expression will you make in your portrait? Give your portrait a special title that answers the question “What makes you you?” Write the title on the portrait so your inner and outer selves can shine!
- Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity by Sarah Suzuki, illustrated by Ellen Weinstein. This book by a MoMA curator narrates Kusama’s inspirations and challenges throughout her life and career. Enjoy a read-aloud video of this book.
- Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with artwork by Yayoi Kusama
Delight in Yayoi Kusama’s whimsical illustrations for this classic tale. Kusama’s playful and surreal illustrations are the perfect invitation for the reader to join Alice on her many adventures. Take a peek at some of the images you’ll find in this book.
- Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
A little girl looks up at the night sky in wonder. As she starts to count the stars, she is curious about the concept of infinity. She asks her friends how they imagine infinity. As she asks more people, she learns that the love she has for her family feels infinite. Borrow an ebook version for free with an NC library card here.
- The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Similar to Yayoi Kusama, a dot inspired the main character of this book to make art. She felt stuck in art class until she saw her single dot on a page, signed and hanging in her classroom. Her confidence grew as an artist and she passed an important lesson on to a young visitor at her art show. Watch an animated reading of this story here.