Late Nights at the Whitney
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Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist who spent sixteen years working in the United States. Best known for her use of dense patterns of polka dots and nets, as well as her intense, large-scale environments, she has worked in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance, and immersive installation. On Saturday, July 21, kids and parents were invited to spend time looking at and discussing works of art in the exhibition, Yayoi Kusama, on view through September 30.
At the Family Fun Art Workshop, Whitney educators introduced families to Kusama’s working methods and materials. In her Accumulation sculptures, Kusama covered the surfaces of furniture, clothing, and accessories with stuffed fabric shapes. While looking at these sculptures, kids considered what they would like to accumulate. Dolls, fish, and cookies were just some of the answers.
Next, families saw Kusama’s Infinity Net paintings, large-scale canvases covered with repeated brushstrokes in a single color on a contrasting background. Using pencil and paper, kids and their parents mimicked Kusama’s obsessive pattern making to explore what it felt like to repeat the same shape over and over again. It was hard to get families to put down their pencils once they started!
After the tour, families were invited to the Whitney Studio to make their own Kusama-inspired accumulation sculptures. Each family was challenged to transform a cardboard box by repeatedly adding a single material such as buttons, pom poms, confetti, or wheel-shaped pasta. The results included wacky hats covered in macaroni and soaring cardboard towers embellished with buttons. Whether they made wearable sculptures or experimented with unusual materials, families had a blast channeling Kusama’s obsessive, repetitive process.
By Kate Weiner, Family Programs intern