Fine art for kids: Boxing with Louise Nevelson

 - by Sarah Lipoff

Sarah Lipoff 2011

I’m not going to lie. Louise Nevelson is one of my favorite artists. I remember when my somewhat crazy-lady high-school art teacher shared pictures of her sculptures and I thought they were so interesting but yet so simple. Then she showed us these amazing pictures of her and I was totally hooked. Nevelson’s sculptures are really compelling and different and I love the compartmentalization of her work. Her artworks are a total package – a box full of fun.¬†She painted these boxes of stuff one color, which causes the viewer to look deeper and notice shapes, textures, lines, and balance. And, Louise Nevelson was a bit crazy-lady herself, which makes her art even more cool.

So, when I came across an empty soap box the other day, Louise Nevelson came to mind. I also KNEW there were lots and lots of random bits hanging around the house that could be re-purposed into a great Nevelson inspired artwork. This is a great art activity for kids of all ages – even the wee tots! All you need are a box, some random stuff, glue, and black or white paint!

Start by sending your child on a scavenger hunt around the house searching for puzzle pieces that don’t have puzzles, buttons, beads, feathers, blocks, small toys, bottle caps – pretty much anything small and interesting that no longer has a home (or you are sick of stepping on because it just never gets put away).

Invite your child to place all the objects she found on your work table and pick the ones that have neat lines, shapes or textures. This is a great opportunity to talk about shapes – if they are organic or geometric – and discuss what texture is and how all her interesting objects feel.

Share some pictures of Louise Nevelson’s artwork with your child so she can see what her motivation is. Take a minute or two to talk about all the things your child sees in Nevelson’s artwork along with asking what she thinks about her creations.

Now offer your child the box and encourage her to place those found objects within the box, creating an exciting composition – just like Louise Nevelson! She can also think about balance (how things look within her composition) and if things are symmetrical or asymmetrical to create harmony, which causes the eye to move comfortably across the artwork.

Give your child a bottle of glue and let her stick her items to the bottom of the box. Encourage her to use a small amount of glue so there aren’t big-ol-globs of glue all over the place. And, if you’ve got an older kid, she can wield the glue-gun and really get those items stuck in place.

If you used glue, let your box dry overnight before painting. But, if you hot-glued, you’re good to go. Get out your black or white tempera paint and cover your work area before painting – and the child! Put some paint in a container, give the kid a brush, and paint that box of fun!

Your child’s finished Louise Nevelson box sculpture can be proudly displayed somewhere for everyone to enjoy!

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