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Trousse activite yayoi



Activities for all ages.

Illustration: Chiladen

The PHI Foundation presents the exhibition of Yayoi Kusama, DANCING LIGHTS THAT FLEW UP TO THE UNIVERSE, from July 6, 2022 to January 15, 2023.

Activity Kit presented by the PHI Foundation’s Education Team

Educators and Project Managers:
Amanda Beattie
Kim Johnson
Zoe Compton
Prakash Krishnan

Head of Education:
Marie-Hélène Lemaire

Hello! It is our pleasure to offer you the Yayoi Kusama Activity Kit.

This activity kit is addressed to children and youth as well as the adults who share their lives.

The kit accompanies the exhibition presented at the PHI Foundation from July 6 2022 to January 15, 2023. The exhibition, entitled DANCING LIGHTS THAT FLEW UP TO THE UNIVERSE, showcases artworks by contemporary artist* Yayoi Kusama, who was born on March 22, 1929, in Matsumoto City, Japan.

This exhibition presents Yayoi Kusama’s paintings, sculptures and immersive light installations.* A recurring motif in her art is polka dots, which we find in her pumpkin sculptures and her immersive light installations. Her series of paintings called My Eternal Soul (2009⁠—) are full of biomorphic forms* such as cells, eyes, flowers, polka dots, and profiles of human faces.

Trousse portrait yayoi kusama
Yayoi Kusama, 2020. Photo by Yusuke Miyazaki
© YAYOI KUSAMA. Courtesy of David Zwirner, Ota Fine Arts and Victoria Miro


*What does contemporary art mean? The word “contemporary” means “now” or “of the present day.” Contemporary art is art created by artists who are alive now or who lived in the recent past.

*Immersive art installation: an immersive installation is a vast sculpture composed of many different parts that you can enter and move around in. Within the installation you have the feeling of being enveloped; of diving into something.

*Biomorphic forms: Shapes or images that look like living forms such as humans or plants.



Since childhood, Yayoi Kusama has gathered much of her artistic inspiration from nature. Her family owned a seed farm in Japan, and she grew up surrounded by boundless natural environments filled with fresh flowers and plants. At the age of ten, she began experiencing visions, believing the flowers around her were multiplying and speaking to her. She conveys these experiences in her artworks. Pumpkins have also been a longstanding object of interest for Kusama. She began drawing them as a child and later, as an adult, began making sculptures of them. For Kusama, the whimsical form and colour of pumpkins came to represent a kind of self-portrait, a representation of herself.

Yayoi kusama theme nature


Avant-garde artists create experimental artworks which often push the boundaries of our understanding of what art is. Since the beginning of her career in New York in the 1950s, Yayoi Kusama has been creating avant-garde artworks that challenge traditional art styles. Some examples include her large Infinity Net paintings which are composed of a repetitive polka dot pattern that expands beyond the canvas to cover walls and various objects in her studio, turning everyday objects into art. Blurring the boundaries between everyday objects and art objects was a new idea at the time. Today, thousands of people wait in line to take a photo inside Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Rooms — her light and mirrored installations — that they can post online. Once again Kusama is at the forefront of the avant-garde and is regarded as the most famous living artist today.

Yayoi kusama theme avant garde

Immersive Art

Immersive art can be described as a state of being, often encompassing several senses at once. This form of art has been said to create a feeling of envelopment and of transformation. With artworks such as her series INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM 1965, Kusama discovered a way of communicating her visions with visitors. Using mirrors and repetitive patterns, she creates a limitless world, where reality can easily be construed as an unknown and boundless universe. Kusama’s ongoing painting series titledMy Eternal Soul (2009⁠—), invites us into the artist’s emotional reflections. These large-scale paintings can be interpreted as a journey; a form of meditation through repetition and visualization. The colourful, biomorphic shapes that cover the canvases transport and invite us to reflect on the never-ending changes in our lives.

Yayoi kusama theme art immersif

Activity 1

Yayoi kusama activite 1
Yayoi Kusama, Pumpkin (L), 2016. Mirror polished bronze, dye, and acrylic lacquer
© YAYOI KUSAMA. Courtesy of David Zwirner, Ota Fine Arts, and Victoria Miro

The voices of pumpkins: write a poetic collage

Theme: Nature

Materials: found organic or recycled materials (see below), large sheet of cardstock or cardboard, paper, markers, scissors, glue.

Yayoi Kusama is deeply fascinated with objects that she finds beautiful or peculiar, such as macaroni shells, flowers, and pumpkins. She explores her interest in these objects by making several art pieces inspired by them, including sculptures, paintings, and poetry.

In this activity, we are going to combine these inspirations to create a sculptural poem made of found materials.

Part 1: Making the collage

Step 1: Collect the materials needed to build your collage. These can either be organic materials you scavenged from outside (leaves, fresh or dried flowers, twigs, etc.) or scrap materials from your recycling bin (paper, cardboard, egg cartons, plastic, etc.).

Step 2: Set down a large piece of cardstock/Bristol board/cardboard or any kind of thick paper to serve as the base of the collage.

Step 3: Use your scissors to cut your materials into the shapes and sizes you like. These can be as big or small as you want.

Step 4: Arrange your materials on your base and move them around until you are happy with their placements. Remember that you can layer materials on top of one another. When you are satisfied, glue down the pieces onto the base.

Part 2: Composing the poem and incorporating it within the collage

Step 5: Once you are finished with the collage, it is time to write your poem. Pick something from nature that fascinates you. For Kusama, this was pumpkins and flowers, but you can choose anything, such as a plant, an animal, a body of water, or even the weather. Write a poem as if you were the object or element that you chose. If your natural element could speak, what would it tell us? Your poem doesn’t need to be very long — between 2 to 5 lines is fine — and doesn’t have to rhyme. Using a marker, you can write the poem directly onto your collage or you can write it across several small pieces of paper which you can then glue onto the collage.

Activity 2

Yayoi kusama activite 2
Yayoi Kusama
I’m Here, but Nothing, at Maison de la culture du Japon, Paris, 2000

Avant-Garde Wrapping Paper

Theme: Avant-garde

In this activity, we are going to expand on Kusama’s idea of activating our environment by blurring everyday objects with art! We will create a repetitive pattern on wrapping paper, which we will then use to wrap everyday objects in the room (in the classroom or at home).

Materials: Recycled styrofoam, white or plain wrapping paper (thin paper or tissue paper), acrylic paint, paint brushes, scissors, blunt pencils.

Step 1: On the recycled foam, trace shapes with your pencil. You have the option to create a pattern inside the shapes by drawing with pressure to create an imprint. This will work best if the pencils are not sharp.

Step 2: Cut out the shapes. Now you have your stamps!

Step 3: Using acrylic paint and a paintbrush, apply a layer of paint to your stamp - not too thin, and not too thick! If you have an imprint in your stamp, you can scoop paint out of the cracks with your pencil.

Step 4: Place the painted side of the stamp on your white or plain wrapping paper. Create as many stamp impressions with the paint as possible, and then repeat until your paper is covered in the repetitive pattern. This is called print-making.

Step 5: Once your printed pattern is dry, you can use your wrapping paper to wrap objects in the room. You have now activated your environment with art!

As a group: You can also do this activity in a group to create a collective piece with all of your various patterns.

Activity 3

Yayoi kusama activite 3 partie 1
Yayoi Kusama, THE LOVE I MET IN HEAVEN, 2016. Acrylic on canvas
© YAYOI KUSAMA. Courtesy of David Zwirner, Ota Fine Arts and Victoria Miro

Part 1: A collaborative drawing inspired by Yayoi Kusama’s My Eternal Soul (2009—) paintings

Theme: Immersive art*

In Yayoi Kusama’s My Eternal Soul (2009—) painting series, the artist depicts her search for humanity, love, and peace. When observing this series, we discover biomorphic forms* and repetition. These artworks showcase colourful patterns and shapes resembling plants, rocks, cells, eyeballs, and polka dots, to name a few. The artist uses an array of colourful acrylic paints and thick black lines to outline her shapes.

In this activity, we will consider how art can express our perception of the world surrounding us: how we see it, how we imagine it and how we feel about it. Using black markers, and colouring crayons, we will create a collaborative* drawing inspired by Yayoi Kusama’s work.

Material: Large sheets of paper, thick black markers, crayons, markers. 

Step 1: Lay out a large sheet of paper on a table that is big enough for 4-5 people to fit around it.

Step 2: Using thick black markers, trace various organic shapes*.

Step 3:  Observe the creation as a whole and create links between the shapes using lines and patterns. You can draw faces, bodies, and living things, for example.

Step 4: Colour in the shapes and the background using crayons and markers. 

Step 5: Observe and discuss the outcome of the collaborative drawing.

Discussion starters: 
Describe the universe you have created as a team.
What biomorphic forms do you see? 
Which emotion comes to mind when observing your collaborative drawing? 


*Collaborative: Something that is done as a team.

*Immersive: A feeling of being enveloped; diving into something.

*Biomorphic: Shapes or images that look like living forms such as humans or plants.

*Organic shapes: Organic shapes are irregular, with fluid contours and no sharp angles. Many organic shapes can be found in nature.

Yayoi Kusama013
Yayoi Kusama, INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM — DANCING LIGHTS THAT FLEW UP TO THE UNIVERSE, 2019. Mirrored glass, wood, LED lighting system, metal, and acrylic panel. Courtesy of David Zwirner, Ota Fine Arts and Victoria Miro. Photo: Kerry McFate

Part 2: A DIY kaleidoscope to immerse ourselves within our collective drawing

Yayoi Kusama is really interested in ideas linked to:
- infinity (things going on and on forever),
- obliteration (erasing herself by becoming part of her environment through patterns),
- and hallucination (imagining seeing things).

Inspired by the above ideas, this activity involves creating a totally immersive and psychedelic visual experience by making your own kaleidoscope!

A kaleidoscope is a tool that creates multiple, colourful patterns. These patterns remind us of the kinds of environments that Kusama creates in her Infinity Mirrored Rooms

*You can use your kaleidoscope to observe the collaborative drawing you created as a group in the previous activity!

Materials: pencil, ruler, scissors, a glue gun or glue stick, scotch tape, an empty toilet paper roll, fun, colourful paper / wrapping paper, Mylar cardstock / any reflective mirror paper

Step 1: Cover your toilet paper roll with some fancy, colourful paper.

Step 2: Measure and cut your Mylar cardstock or mirror paper to 4” x 4 ½”.

Step 3: Fold the Mylar lengthwise in three parts to make a triangular prism, and attach the ends together with tape.

Step 4: Insert the Mylar into your toilet paper roll and rediscover your environment through your kaleidoscope by looking through one end and twisting it around and around!

Send us your creations!

Join the community and share your activity results with the hashtag #phifoundation or tag us @fondationphi on social media!

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Illustration (cover): Chiladen