A recent trip to our local art museum has inspired such a fun art project for kids…using salt! Keep reading to find out what we made and to learn more about the amazing artist, Motoi Yamaoto.
“Drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory. Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by; however, what I seek is to capture a frozen moment that cannot be attained through pictures or writings. What I look for at the end of the act of drawing could be a feeling of touching a precious memory.” – Motoi Yamamoto
My five year old, Lucy, and I just recently went to our local art museum to see their latest exhibit, “Return to the Sea”, Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto. I can’t even fully describe what an amazing thing his art was to see.
Motoi is a contemporary Japanese artist who has recently been creating installations made entirely from salt. In the Japanese culture, salt is a symbol of purification and mourning. Working with salt has helped Motoi work through the death of his sister and help to heal his grief.
This particular piece covered almost the entire gallery floor and used about 300 pounds of salt! The patterns of this installation was very lace-like. In a video shown at the museum, the artist explains that each little bubble-like shape in the lace pattern represents a small memory, and all the little memories come together to form the finished piece.
As amazing as this art is in itself, what even touched me more was how he involves the communities where he displays his saltworks. While the artist is creating his installation, the public is invited to watch and interact with him. And, during the closing of the exhibition, visitors are invited to participate in the dismantling of the salt artwork. They help to scoop the salt up into bags and bottles and then take a community walk to the sea where the salt is released into the ocean. We cannot wait to take part in this!
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We were very inspired to begin making our own creations with salt once we were home. Because the sensory experience is so important to the artist, I first started out with a salt sensory tray invitation for the kids. They spent lots of time exploring the salt in our regular and mini sized salt trays.
A few days later we were ready to start our own salt art on a larger scale! We really wanted to try to draw with salt just like the artist. Luckily I had a couple of squeeze bottles on hand. We filled them with salt and found the biggest canvas we could~ our porch! We all headed outside and began to ‘draw’ with the salt-filled bottles. It was actually quite calming moving the bottles around as the salt slowly poured out.
Later we thought it would be fun to try drawing with colored salt. To make our colored salt, we filled some plastic cups with salt and added a few drops of food coloring to each one. It took quite a bit of stirring to get the color to distribute evenly. We then let it dry overnight.
The next day we filled our squeeze bottles with the colored salt. It was a bit more difficult drawing with it, as it didn’t flow quite as smoothly as the plain, white salt. However, with a bit of patience, we still managed to create some colorful salt art! (You could probably do this using colored sand in place of the salt.) Since we had sketched Yamamoto’s patterns in our sketchbook at the museum, we thought it would be fun to make our colored salt art similar to his.
We were having so much fun we had to try a few other canvases!
If you’d rather try something on a smaller scale, drawing with salt would make a great invitation to create! All you need is a tray and a container of salt. I left this out one morning for the kids to create with.
Learning about the art and inspiration of Motoi Yamamoto has been an amazing experience. Lucy was especially taken with how the artist used his artwork to express his emotions. I think she will remember this for quite a long time!
I would like to invite you to take a moment and check out the links below to learn more about this amazing artist. I hope you find some inspiration from him as well!
Here are some amazing sites with videos and photographs of other salt installations by the artist, Motoi Yamamoto:
1.This site has an amazing video with Motoi speaking about why and how he creates his saltwork. I just love hearing the ideas coming right in his own voice.
2. This link will take you to the same video that was shown to us at the museum. You’ll find the video all the way at the end of the page.