Do you know the name Yayoi Kusama? If you don’t know her name I guarantee you’re familiar with her artwork. Her images of polka dots and pumpkins have woven themselves into our popular culture.
Who is Yayoi Kusama…
Kusama is a Japanese artist who has been creating art for most of her ninety plus year life. Her body of work is enormous and spans painting, drawing, sculpture, collage, printmaking, installations, environmental art, fashion, and more.
Despite the fact that her work has been done over many decades and in many different medias there are consistent themes, like polka dots and pumpkins, that appear over and over in her work. Kusama is often referred to as the polka dot artist. Her colorful works and sometimes cartoon-ish subject matter make her work interesting and fun to talk about with kids.
Despite the bright colors and simple subjects there’s a lot of more serious connections that can be made with Kusama’s work. Depending on the maturity and age of the young people you’re wokring with consider exploring these themes.
-Mental health- Kusama suffers from hallucinations which influence her artwork. She has lived in a mental institution since the 1970’s. She works in her studio next door.
-Being woman artist- Kusama is one of the most successful women artists of her time.
-Participatory art-Kusama’s installations present a unique opportunity to talk about the viewer’s role in an installation. Some of Kusama’s installations are participatory. Viewers are encouraged to keep their distance from most museum artworks but not so with Kusama’s obliteration rooms and her infinity mirror rooms.
Yayoi Kusama books for kids….
If you’re going to use one resource to teach your young people about the art of and life of Yayoi Kusama I cannot recommend From Here to Infinity enough! It’s a beautifully illustrated trip through Kusama’s artwork and life. It tackles big subjects like Kusama’s mental illness in a straightforward and kid friendly way.
I also love Women in Art; 50 Fearless Creatives Who Inspired the World. One page is devoted to Kusama. It’s a short summary but it’s awesome to see her in context with so many other creative women!
Hi, Konnichiwa: Yayoi Kusama Art Book Bilingual Edition by
Yayoi Kusama books for everyone….
Disclaimer..the books below are not meant exclusively for children. Some of Yayoi Kusama’s work does feature nudity and sexual themes. So just be sure to preview the books and images to be sure they fit what your family deems appropriate.
Use what you know….
These books provide so much great information. And they do it in such a way that it doesn’t necessarily feel like cold, hard research. (Unless you’re like me and you love research. ;))
If you’re looking for a way to assess student learning why require a boring book report or paper? I’ve got some great free resources for you to use to keep assessments as fun as the learning.
Want to get the free Yayoi Kusama printable….
Use the from below to become a Kitchen Table Classroom subscriber. Then, go check your email and confirm that you meant to subscribe. Upon confirmation you’ll get a subscriber only password that will give you access to my Free Resource Library. There you’ll find this artist response printable for Yayoi Kusama as well as hundreds of other printables. (The thumbnail for this printable can be found under the “Art Appreciation” headline.
You’ll also become a Kitchen Table Classroom subscriber. that means you’ll get my weekly newsletter that will bring you my newest printable resources and fun projects- right to your inbox!
Already a Kitchen Table Classroom subscriber…
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Resources for learning about any artist….
Try this free artist biography book. This eight page printable book prints in black and white. It’s ready for your kiddo to respond to prompts through writing, drawing, and adding photos or pictures. This book is appropriate for responding to any artist and asks factual questions such as their birth place, era, and materials used. It also requires a little deeper thinking with questions about what differentiates their artist from others!
I also have two artists study printable resources. Each of these are one page but is one is more suited to the younger crowd, while the other extends to the middle school/ high school level. Your kids will be asked some basic facts as well to respond to what they’ve learned!