This week’s back-to-school artist spotlight features Yayoi Kusama!  Kusama is a Japanese artist whose work spans pop art, minimalism, painting, installation, performance, fashion, and more.  She’s most famously known for her work using repetitive polka dots and mirrors to create infinity installations, giving the viewer the sense that they’re gazing out into endlessness.

Kusama’s inspiration comes from experiencing mental illness, beginning when she was young.  As a child, she had hallucinations that made her see fields of dots, and she uses these images in her art.  She describes her style as “obsessional,” and often recreates what she fears as a way to work through her emotions.  

Kusama has been very open about her mental health, and has often explained that creating art is her way of coping with her experiences.  As one of the most famous and successful contemporary female artists in the world, her openness with mental health struggles is so important for bringing awareness to and destigmatizing mental health conditions for children and adults.

Inspired by her childhood, Kusama’s art incorporates bright colors, bold patterns, and organic shapes often found in children’s books, drawings, and toys.  Her installations exaggerate the size of these objects, allowing the viewer to not only see the images, but to walk through and experience them from a different perspective.  Being surrounded by towering shapes with unconventional patterns is a fun experience, transporting the observer to a totally unique and surreal dimension.  Yayoi Kusama is a great choice for back-to-school week, because her work has a whimsical, magical feel that children can have fun exploring while also gleaning positive messaging from a thriving mental health advocate.  Please share her art and her story with the children in your life! 





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