Kids honor an artist with their art


Make text smaller Make text larger


A library project inspired by the work of Yayoi Kusama attracts children of all ages


Photos



  • Children’s librarian January Sanalak, left, and information assiistant Jo Henning, created the Webster Library’s salute to Yayoi Kusama. Photo: Emily Higginbotham




The first thing one two-year-old did when she walked into Webster Library with her babysitter Friday morning was put her mark on a work of art. She grabbed orange and green dot-shaped stickers and placed them — with no particular design in mind — among the many other stickers dotting a bookshelf covered in white construction paper. It was her best attempt at recreating a Yayoi Kusama original.

Of course, she didn’t know that she was participating in an interactive display honoring the contemporary Japanese artist, but she still was getting a lot out it.

That’s according to the masterminds behind the display, January Sanalak, the children’s librarian at the York Avenue library, and Jo Henning, an information assistant.

A few years ago, Sanalak, 34, saw one of Kusama’s exhibits and the experience stayed with her. Kusama is best known for her use of “dense patterns of polka dots and nets,” according to the Whitney Museum of American Art, which put on a retrospective of Kusama’s art in 2012. In 1954, she came to New York City and quickly became a part of the avant-garde scene, running in the same circles as Andy Warhol. She moved back to Japan in the 1970s, but left a lasting impression on the counter-culture in New York.

With her 90th birthday and Women’s History Month coinciding in March, Sanalak and Henning thought it would be the perfect time to pay homage to a woman they see as an inspiration.

“She’s 90 and she’s still putting stuff out there,” Sanalak said, explaining her admiration. The installation, she says, is an invitation for kids to “come do art like she does art.”

Sanalak, Henning and some of their co-workers went dumpster diving to find more objects to add to their display and came back with a chair, trash can, desk organizer, pencil holder, and a mirror, which proved to be a popular item for kids to place their stickers.

“Babies like to look at themselves in the mirror,” Sanalak said.

“There’s a lot of child development stuff going on here,” Henning, 23, replied.

Sanalak agreed, saying putting the stickers on the shelf helps young children develop motor skills. But in general, Sanalak said, it’s important to provide free interactive art for children to fill the gaps left when public schools have to cut art funding.

The Kusama display was the first art project Sanalak and Henning put together at Webster, but they hope it won’t be the last. “I don’t know what will be next,” Sanalak said. “How will I top this?”





Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments



MUST READ NEWS

Third Ave tower too tall, BP says
One block, one developer, two controversial towers
Read more »
Image

Funding cuts loom for NYC libraries
A grassroots campaign to fight the spending reductions reveals New Yorkers love for their “de facto community centers”
Read more »
Image

The place where Pride began
The Stonewall National Monument in Greenwich Village attracts New Yorkers and tourists alike
Read more »
Image

“A true investigator”
An Upper East Side detective who loves the challenge of solving crimes wins a top NYPD honor
Read more »
Image

City cracks down on building voids
Council strengthens earlier City Planning Commission proposal to address so-called zoning loophole
Read more »
Image

VIDEOS



Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Neighborhood Newsletters





MOST READ

Local News
Third Ave tower too tall, BP says
  • Jun 11, 2019
Local News
The place where Pride began
  • Jun 11, 2019
Local News
Ian Hunter rocks on
  • Jun 12, 2019

MOST COMMENTED