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Activity: Create Your Own Mini Aquarium

mini aquarium artmaking activity

In today’s activity, learn about Yayoi Kusama’s work Narcissus Garden. Then make your own mini aquarium inspired by the beauty of nature.

Yayoi Kusama, Narcissus Garden, 1966, stainless steel spheres. Courtesy of OZ Art. Courtesy of Ota Fine Art and Victoria Miro © YAYOI KUSAMA. Image courtesy of Ironside Photography.
Yayoi Kusama, Narcissus Garden, 1966, stainless steel spheres. Courtesy of OZ Art. Courtesy of Ota Fine Art and Victoria Miro © YAYOI KUSAMA. Image courtesy of Ironside Photography.

Look Closer:  

  • For this work, Yayoi Kusama took inspiration from the Greek myth of Narcissus. While obsessing over his own reflection on the surface of the water, he accidentally falls in. Why would the artist choose this story? Do you see the connection between the story and the work of art?
  • This work encourages us to see past our own reflection by showing the beauty of nature on each mirrored sphere. How do you feel about seeing your reflection in a piece of art? Can you picture your favorite outdoor scene? 
  • Yayoi Kusama is known for making art that includes the repetition of circles. She often has visions of small circles filling up entire rooms. Although this once caused panic, she now uses this as a driving force and inspiration for her art. What inspires you?

Activity: Create Your Own Mini Aquarium

mini aquarium artmaking activity

Materials:

  • Cardboard box
  • Scissors
  • Construction paper
  • Glue
  • String  
  • Markers / drawing materials  
  • Mirror board (could use tin foil)
  • Acrylic paint 
  • Paintbrushes
  • Tape

Instructions:

mini aquarium artmaking activity

Step 1: Start by painting the exterior and interior of the cardboard box blue. Let dry.

Step 2: Cut the construction paper to fit onto the inside of the cardboard box. After, you can use a marker to add waves.

mini aquarium artmaking activity
mini aquarium artmaking activity
mini aquarium artmaking activity

Step 3: Cut out the shapes of the items you want to put in your aquarium. I cut out two fish, three plants, and many reflective circles. Get creative! What other things have you seen in water that you could add? Next, begin gluing the items with your glue stick.

mini aquarium artmaking activity

Step 4: Attach a short string to the back of each fish with tape and then use another piece of tape to attach the fish to the top of the box. Now the fish are swimming!

mini aquarium artmaking activity

Helpful Hint: Experiment with reflections by placing your aquarium in different lighting to see how it changes. Think about other nature scenes you could create!

Have fun exploring! Share your mini aquarium with us on social media – tag #crystalbridges on Instagram.

 

Written by Marlie Allgood, art instructor, Crystal Bridges.