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STEAM Project: Kusama-Inspired Micro Worlds (Quick Tip)

Light of Life, Yayoi Kusama

Upper elementary and older students can use problem-solving and ingenuity to create their own small-scale immersive environments inspired by the work of Yayoi Kusama. This can be an individual or group project.

Materials you will need:

  • Collect cardboard boxes to use. Squares and wider rectangles will work the best. Cereal boxes would be too narrow.
  • Collect a variety of materials to use inside the box:
    • Reflective and printed papers, foil, or cellophane
    • Battery-operated LEDs, Christmas lights, etc.
    • Figurines, happy meal toys, toy soldiers, etc.

Project activities:

  • Introduce the work of Kusama to your students. Yayoi Kusama uses lights, dots, orbs, mirrors, and pumpkins to transform spaces into unique environments. Some are large rooms that you can enter, and some are smaller constructions that you can peer into through openings. No matter their size, Kusama’s works make us think about how art can challenge our perceptions and evoke a sense of wonder.
  • For a cheeky take on this idea, view artist Jon Burgerman’s video about taking his makeshift infinity box to the crowds outside a New York City gallery where Kusama’s art was on view.
  • Determine an intention for your mini environment. Think about:
    • Do you want to make something inspired by a work of art? Which one? How can you do this?
    • Do you want to make something connected to a work of literature, a science topic, a place? Which one? How can you do this?
    • Do you want to make something that challenges perceptions or appeals to senses? How can you do this?
  • With your intention in mind, select the materials that work best to create an environment inside the box. You may need to cut the box at one seam to open it up and make it easier to decorate the sides.
  • Think of a way to make it possible to view inside the box. Consider:
    • Will you cut holes to peep into?
    • Will you put a hole in the bottom that you can stick your head inside?
    • Will you use a periscope?
    • What type of lighting will you need to make the inside of the box visible?
    • Will you use technology to see inside the box?
      • Use a 360-degree camera to take a picture of the inside of your space. You will need a box that is at least 24 x 24 in. to get a clear image. Items in the box should be arranged toward the edges; you will need to leave a circle with 5-in. radius clear in the center. Go to to see examples created in a 2018 educator workshop.
      • Use a selfie stick or other simple tripod to take a panoramic photo with a cell phone camera.

Kusama-inspired Micro Worlds

Examples of materials and views into micro worlds