Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Projects: Maira Kalman Projects

This post is about artist Maira Kalman. Maira is one of my favorite artists. She loves the absurdities in life and creates warm, funny drawings and commentary about people, animals and places. Maira is multi-talented. She can work in many media: She writes and illustrates Children's Books. I love her "What Pete Ate." It's an alphabet book about silly things her dog Pete ate. A little further on, I described a "What Pete Ate" book project you can try at home.

Maira illustrates New Yorker covers like "Crosstown Boogie Woogie." It is a collage of the great mix of people from many places in the world, that make up New York City. You can make a collage about the people in your neighborhood inspired by Maira's "Crosstown Boogie Woogie." 

Maira creates little movies, like the "Elements of Style." It's a movie she made about her life. You’ll see her drawing and painting and writing comments on a blackboard. You'll see photos of her family and friends. (Note the lilting Spanish music in the background.)

You can make a little movie about your life with your point-and-shoot camera.

Maira creates an amazing monthly blog for the New York Times. She calls herself a “visual correspondent.” The blog is called the “The Pursuit of Happiness." Her current blog is about George Washington. It is fabulous. American history will never be the same. You can start a blog about your family history. Add new posts every week.

Maira-inspired Project: A funny alphabet book

Maira's funny alphabet book “What Pete Ate," inspired this project. You can create an alphabet book with some funny alphabet pages of your own: Your dog or favorite stuffed toy animal can be the "hero." Take some photographs of your animal and paste them on different pages, one page for the letter "A," one for "B," and "C," and so on. Look in magazines for pictures of silly things your animal can "eat," some that start with the letter "A," like axe, or automobile, or autumn leaf, some that start with "B." You get the idea.

Maira-inspired Project: A photo-collage of the people you see every day

Maira's New Yorker cover “Crosstown Boogie Woogie," inspired this project. You can do a "boogies woogie" collage of your own. Take some photos of the people on your street, your family and your friends in the playground. Print them, and cut them out and glue them down on a nice sheet of construction paper. Put the faces very close together so they become a "crowd."
Maira-inspired Project: A movie of your life

Maira's "Elements of Style Movie" inspired this one. (It seems hard, but here's a really easy way to do it, especially if you and your parent work on it together.) Your parent can use a "point-and-shoot" camera to make a little video about your life. Set the camera on video. You can create a soundtrack by putting some music on in the background. Take short videos of each person in your family, of your friends, your home, your favorite toys, your playground. Ask your parent to draw the titles for your video with a big magic marker on sheets of paper and videotape them. When you're finished, ask your parent to save the video on a computer in QuickTime, and you will have your own "elements of my life" video.

Must see: Maira at the TED Conference:
Check out this wonderful video of Maira speaking at the TED conferences. (The speakers are prominent thinkers and innovators.) Maira is as witty and delightful as her drawings.

Maira's Exhibition:
You can see some of Maira's original work at the Julie Saul Gallery in Chelsea:

Maira's Website:
You'll find lots of Maira's wonderful work at her Website:

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