Family Sculpture

Louise Bourgeois carved and painted this wood sculpture in 1941, soon after she emigrated from Paris to New York. Her works from this time period offered her a way to reimagine the people she had left behind in France. These huge sewing needles or weaving tools—the kind her family used in their business of repairing tapestries (sewn or woven designs on fabric)—might look like a family of huddled figures.

Think about the things your family likes to do together. Do you like to play sports, cook, or read together? Choose one object that could represent your family, such as frisbees, pots, pencils, or books. Use drawing and sculpture to make a family portrait. Draw the object in different sizes on separate sheets of paper to represent each member of your family. Roll each sheet of paper into a cylinder and tape the ends where they meet. Stand them up and arrange them to make a sculpture.

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Louise Bourgeois, Quarantania, 1941. Painted wood, 84 × 29 1/4 × 31 1/4 in. (213.4 × 74.3 × 79.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of an anonymous donor 77.80 Art © Louise Bourgeois Trust, licensed by VAGA, New York, N.Y.

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