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The smallest, biggest Kusama fans

May 25th, 2018

The class from North Hill Private School. All art works © Yayoi Kusama. Photo by the AGO.

Sometimes the biggest art fans come in the smallest packages.

Take Mrs. Verna’s junior kindergarten students at North Hill Private School in Woodbridge, Ont. As soon as the teacher heard that Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors was coming to Toronto, she planned a study unit on this important contemporary artist. The students learned all about Kusama’s Obliteration Room and her love of polka dots. They also created their own artworks inspired by Kusama.

“We even collected pieces of furniture, painted them white and covered them with dots, inspired by Kusama’s Obliteration Room. With the help of staff, my teaching assistants Ms. Amanda and Ms. Pina, as well as our art teacher Ms. Melissa, parents and our school community, our little display grew. Soon we used over 10,000 stickers to create our Kusama-inspired display,” Mrs. Verna said.

Next came the exciting part – a chance for these pint-sized art fans to see Kusama’s work in person. The AGO is the first art museum in North America to offer school visits to Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, and we welcomed over 4,000 students during the exhibition’s runKnowing about the unprecedented demand, Mrs. Verna kept her expectations low when she entered her class into the lottery for the chance to see the exhibition. And it’s a good thing, because initially the class did not win a spot – but a cancellation led to these tiny art fans jumping off the wait list and into the AGO.

Two young students add brightly coloured dots to their tote bags.

Two North Hill students making their Mother’s Day tote bags. Image courtesy of Mrs. Verna.

A young girl models a large-fitting t-shirt, covered in yellow, red, and blue dots.

One North Hill student shows off her Kusama-inspired t-shirt. Image courtesy of Mrs. Verna.

“We couldn’t believe it when we got the great news that a spot became available. In less than 24 hours we had booked a bus, planned a trip for 21 JK and SK students, and distributed permission and consent forms – all before a long weekend,” Mrs. Verna said. “The parents and children were so excited it was all they could talk about. The kids and teachers pointed out polka dots everywhere; we dreamed in dots!”

Not surprisingly, Kusama’s Obliteration Room at the AGO was a big hit with Mrs. Verna’s students. And all of the Infinity Mirror Rooms dazzled the class.

Students from North Hill Private School. Yayoi Kusama. Dots Obsession – Love Transformed Into Dots, 2007, at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Mixed media installation. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. © Yayoi Kusama. Photo by the AGO.

A small child's face peers through one of the peep holes in Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror Room "Love Forever."

A young student peeks inside Love Forever. Yayoi Kusama. Infinity Mirrored Room – Love Forever, 1966/1994, at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Wood, mirrors, metal, and lightbulbs. Photo by the AGO.

Yayoi Kusama. All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016. Wood, mirror, plastic, black glass, LED. Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London. Photo by the AGO.

Yayoi Kusama. Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013. Wood, metal, glass mirrors, plastic, acrylic panel, rubber, LED lighting system, acrylic balls, and water, 287.7 × 415.3 × 415.3 cm. Courtesy of David Zwirner, N.Y. © Yayoi Kusama. Photo by the AGO.

All art works © Yayoi Kusama. Photo by the AGO.

A group of children and parents inside Yayoi Kusama's Obliteration Room at the AGO in Toronto.

The class trip from North Hill Private School. Yayoi Kusama, installation view of The Obliteration Room at the Art Gallery of Ontario, 2018. Furniture, white paint, dot stickers. Dimensions variable. The Obliteration Room (2002 to present) first commissioned by Queensland Art Gallery, Australia. Collection of Queensland Art Gallery. © Yayoi Kusama. Photos by AGO Image Resources.

“We loved the exhibition. It exceeded all our expectations. We’ll be incorporating this into our graduation celebration – we’re currently working on white and red polka dot grad hats,” she said.

We couldn’t be happier to have Mrs. Verna, her class, and all of the students that joined us for Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors!

If you’re a teacher who would like to bring your class to the AGO, check out our school programs online. Want to join the AGO for free?  Click on our Teachers’ Access Program and find out more about specialized programs just for teachers.

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