Kids Get Arty: Exploring Mike Kelley for Kids

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Kids Get ArtyFinally, we are back with another “Great Artists for Kids” project! We are a little late with this one, though we did do the project a while back. This month’s Great Artist we are focussing on, is American popular culture artist Mike Kelley. Mike Kelley is a great modern day artist to explore with kids, as his artwork is so “accessible to them”. On a gallery visit in Vienna, I saw his “Memory Ware Flat #18” and I knew it would be perfect for the kids. I only regretted not having the kids with me to show them.

Instead we looked at artwork by Mike Kelley online. What is really interesting about doing this, is that you loose a sense of size and perspective. After we looked online, I showed the children a photo I had taken at the gallery (photography WAS permitted), and they were amazed to see a person standing next to it, giving them a sense of size. It was HUGE.

Mike Kelley - Memory Ware Flat 18

I have to confess to not really understanding Kelley’s work at all. But liking (some of) it, especially the art I saw in Vienna. So I guess, this is a Great Artists Project about seeing something you like, and creating something inspired by it. It gives you food for thought and expands your artists tool kit. It gives the children an opportunity to try out something new and ask questions – even if you don’t have all the answers. But sometimes, there are not lots of answers.

Here is a great article on Mike Kelley, written after his death and sharing a video of his key pieces of art – please watch it first to check it is suitable for your kids.

Our Mike Kelley Inspired Art Project:

Mike Kelley - Memory Ware Flat 18 - Detail

1) We started off by looking at the photographs again. I had photographed different details to show them a bit more about the artwork. We talked about the sort of things he put on his pictures and what sort of things we could add. I was REALLY hoping to use up some of the kids “plastic toot from party bags” – you know, little plastic figurines, plastic balls etc – those bits and pieces that fly around the house and get under you feet?? I thought it would make a great “resembling childhood” type theme. But MY kids were unwilling to part with these. We had friends join us for this art session, and they DID part with a handful of said items. We, instead focussed, on our plastic bottle tops, old no longer working pens, and other bits and pieces. I guess in someways, my kids represents what we do: a lot of art and a lot of art with junk (e.g. bottle tops!).

Mike Kelley for Kids

2) We used some cardboard box lids as “frames”. This was really handy for moving it around later. And we squished down some air drying clay for them. Then they set to work.

Mike Kelley for Kids - Junk Collage on Clay

3) It was so interesting to see how they all responded differently. Red Ted was very  methodical. His friend, was very minimalist (and totally reflected his personally). Pip Squeak, added lots and lots and lots, and her little friend created a story in his artwork.

I love how all 4 mean something different to each child. And how all four reflect the child’s personality. These personality traits may not be apparent to you the reader, but isn’t that often the way with “great artists” work? We look at it and we don’t REALLY know what the artist was feeling or thinking, but we like to try and figure it out? It also shows, how different we all are and howe we all interpret things differently. I love for example that Pip Squeak also created a pattern in the clay using a pen to make “holes”.

Mike Kelley art project for kids (2)

If you are looking for more Art Resources, take a look at:

art-books-for-kids3-254x300 Art Projects for Kids

Art Books for Kids and these 30 Art Projects from Kids Get Arty linkies in the past!

Art for kidsSo.. now it is your chance! We would love to see what Great Artists you have been exploring with your kids and how you approached your arty projects! Come link up. 

I can’t wait to see what Art