Written by: Sarah Suzuki
Illustrated by: Ellen Weinstein
For ages: 4 & up
Topics Covered: Women Artists, Japanese Experience, Self-Expression, POC-Centric Narratives
Summary: Yayoi was born on the island on Honshu, in Japan. Her family lived in the countryside and owned plant nurseries, but Yayoi longed to be an artist. When she was 28, Yayoi bravely moved to New York City by herself. She didn’t have much money, but she painted and painted and painted. Yayoi was fascinated with making dots into art, and when she had her first art show she was a smashing success! Yayoi began traveling the world and showing her art pieces, sculptures and paintings alike. Eventually, Yayoi returned to Japan and continues to make her dot-art to this day!
This book online, says that the age range is eighth graders and up, which we disagree with. This book also does not address her struggles with mental illness. It’s a beautiful book and a breath of fresh air to learn about famous artists that are women, but the book could have gone more in-depth. In the back, there are photographs of Yayoi Kusama’s art installations and paintings as well as a photo of the artist herself. This is a fairly quick read, great to introduce modern art to the budding young artist in your life!
- Who is your favorite artist?
- What do you like the most about their artistic style?
- Have you ever been to a modern art museum?
- Have you ever heard of Yayoi Kusama?
- What do you like about her art?
Continuing the Conversation:
- Look at more photos of Yayoi Kusama’s art. Which piece do you like best? Make an art piece in her dot style-is it easy or hard for you? Why do you think so?
- Take a visit to your local modern art museum. Is any of Kusama’s artwork there? What are some other artists there that call to you with their artistic style? If there isn’t a museum close to you, find one that offers a virtual tour and explore the artwork digitally!
- Look at examples of the art projects Kusama did with mirrors. Give your students small mirrors and let them experiment with art based on their reflections!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Sarah Suzuki is Curator of Drawings and Prints at the Museum of Modern Art. At MoMA, Ms. Suzuki’s exhibitions include Soldier, Spectre, Shaman: The Figure and the Second World War (2015-16); Scenes for a New Heritage: Contemporary Art from the Collection (2015-16); Jean Dubuffet: Soul of the Underground (2014-15); The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters (2014-15); Wait, Later This Will All Be Nothing: Editions by Dieter Roth (2013); Printin’ (2011) with the artist Ellen Gallagher; ‘Ideas Not Theories’: Artists and The Club, 1942-1962 (2010) and Rock Paper Scissors (2010) with Jodi Hauptman; Mind & Matter: Alternative Abstractions, 1940 to Now (2010); and Wunderkammer: A Century of Curiosities (2008), as well as solo exhibitions of Meiro Koizumi (2013); Yin Xiuzhen (2010); Song Dong (2009); and Gert and Uwe Tobias (2008). Among her publications are 2012’s What is a Print?, as well as contributions to numerous books, catalogues, and journals. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia University, she has lectured widely and taught numerous courses on the subject of modern and contemporary art.
Ellen Weinstein was born and raised in New York City. She is a graduate of Pratt Institute and New York’s High School of Art and Design. Awards include American Illustration, Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts Illustration Annual, Print’s Regional Design Annual, Society of Publication Designers, Society of News Designers and the Art Directors Club. She has judged numerous illustration competitions including Communication Arts Illustration Annual 2016, 2016 National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, AOI/World Illustration Awards, Society of Illustrators Annual exhibition, Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship and Society of Illustrators Zankel Scholarship.