We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
I didn’t know who Yayoi Kusama was until I saw a Facebook ad from the Cleveland Museum of Art about an exhibition called “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors.” The exhibition celebrated Kusama’s legendary career and featured a wide range of her artistry. The exhibition ran for two months, from July to September of this year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go. On the upside, my friend and her husband did and they took lots of cool pictures. Check out her life story as well as some of the fun stuff from the exhibition.
Written by Sarah Suzuki Illustrated by Ellen Weinstein
Published by Museum of Modern Art (2017)
Copy provided by Euclid Public Library.
Yayoi Kusama was born in Japan, in a town called Matsumoto City. Yayoi’s family owned plant nurseries where a variety of flowers and vegetables grew. Growing up, she enjoyed drawing plants and stones. Nevertheless, Yayoi dreamed for something different. She dreamed for a life beyond the snowy mountains and away from the countryside.
Yayoi’s mother was old-fashioned. She wanted Yayoi to stay home, learn traditional practices, and find a proper husband. But Yayoi only yearned to be an artist. She got into an art school but life there was no different from home. Yayoi’s teachers criticized her works and demanded that she follow traditional Japanese art.
So what did she do? Yayoi decided that it was time to leave and find a home without rules and boundaries. At 28, Yayoi found herself in America, at the heart of New York City. She didn’t have a lot of money. What little money she had left, Yayoi spent it on art materials.
“She painted when she was cold, she painted when she was hungry, she painted when she was lonely. And she turned her dots into sculptures, too, into soft stuffed tubes that covered sofas and chairs and boats.” ∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴
When Yayoi finally mustered the courage to introduce her work to the public, she invited the friends she made in New York. Her gallery was well received and word about her artwork spread like wildfire. Her dots were gradually covering the world.
Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity provides young readers an in-depth look at Kusama’s life and the influence of her artwork. The last few pages of the book contain photos of her famous works. This beautifully curated book is an homage to an artist who could not be bound, whose passion is as limitless as her dots, and who, at 89, continues to make awe-inspiring art.
“She was devoted to her dots—for her they were a way of thinking about the world among the stars, as one dot among millions of others. They were a way of thinking about infinity.”
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors*
Cleveland, OH (Jul 7, 2018 – Sep 30, 2018)
*Exhibition photos courtesy of my friend, Ruth Fishter.