We are back exploring influential contemporary artists this month of May. We decided to skip April to give my girls some time off from structured art making and have more time for free play, which they spent with utmost enthusiasm.
Now that we’re back, I decided to introduce the girls to a more non-traditional artist who is known for making mixed media pieces. I wanted someone whose work does not primarily revolve around the painted canvas. Luckily, I came across Betye Saar in one of MOMA’s At The Museum episodes. I read up on her life and work and was very much drawn to her eclectic art style and profound messaging.
She is famous for her assemblages, sculptures and collage work. She has this remarkable gift for giving life to old, random objects like broken clocks, bird cages, figurines and weighing scales, and using them to tell a story. I also found out that she is a mother of three creative daughters (as I am!) who grew up to become artists in their own rights. In interviews, she would often be asked how she managed to balance being a mother and being an artist to which she would respond, “What’s the difference?” and I just love that.
There’s definitely more to learn from Betye Saar and her revolutionary life as an artist. Join us this month as we learn more about her and draw inspiration from her work.
MEET THE ARTIST
As an introduction to Betye Saar, I encourage you to click on these links below to read the articles and watch the videos that accompany them. Enjoy!
PROJECT 1: Textured Turtle
Materials: Paper, Paint or Ink, Coloring Tools, Textured Objects for printmaking
We eased our way into the world of Betye Saar with a simple printwork project. This one is inspired by her piece, Turtle’s Lament, which is a color etching she made in 1960.
Etching is a complex art method that we currently have no materials for. As an alternative, I made the kids go around the house and the garden to find things with different types of texture, which we used to create prints. Follow these steps:
- Collect texture objects like leaves, egg cartons, loose lego pieces, rocks and fruit.
- On a piece of paper, draw an outline of a turtle with big shell segments
- Apply paint or ink on your texture objects and fill every segment in the turtle shell with a different pattern or texture.
- Finally, paint or color the background and the rest of the turtle to complete the artwork
PROJECT 2: Playful Assemblage
Materials: Box, Random Objects (Ex: wooden rings, old toys, buttons, beads, sticks, pompoms, feathers, etc), Glue, Colored/Patterned Paper, Glue gun (optional)
This super fun project can finally put all those random bits and bobs in your drawers to good use! I definitely have a whole stash of them in my home and I was more than happy to take them out and let the girls make playful assemblages with them.
- Collect random objects around the house which you don’t mind the kids using
- Have your child pick objects from what you’ve collected and arrange them in an empty box to create a scenery, a character, or any abstract piece. Here are some assemblages by Betye Saar to get you inspired!
- Glue, tie or tape the pieces together. Paint parts of it if you wish.
There are zero rules for this project but I encouraged the girls to try and tell a story. We even did a Show & Tell afterwards!
Keep posted for Part 2 of Objects and Stories with Betye Saar!
If you’re interested in letting your children join more arts and crafts classes, I will be conducting a series of workshops with Skill Skout next week! You can go CLICK THIS LINK for more information and how to join 🙂