Kids' Program: Artist Saturday: Garth Erasmus

by - July 14, 2018

Artist Saturday is a recurring program where we look at some works of a particular artist, discuss how he or she created the artwork, and then individually create something inspired by their techniques using available supplies and modified for time.

This awesome kiddo wanted to do something a little lighter and more cheerful, and that is A-OK with me.

The Artist:

Garth Erasmus is a South African artist who has worked in many different kinds of media. His work is featured in collections around the world. Depending on how in-depth you want to go and the age of your participants, you can look at the way his Khoisan ancestry is reflected in his work and how he addresses apartheid and its impact on South Africa's past and present. For a more in-depth biography, you can check out his [Wikipedia page].

His Art:

You can get a feel for his art by checking out [the Africa South Art Initiative website]. For this program, I'm focusing on the artwork you can find by clicking on the "Mantis Praise" tab on that website.

The [Smithsonian National Museum of African Art website] describes how the art was made.

"The artist applied layers of color with acrylic onto a board, then added a final layer with black crayon. Scratching off the various layers to create skulls, figures and some inscriptions may have been a form of meditation for the artist."

The [On Set Productions website] has more information from the artist on the feelings and techniques that went into the Mantis Praise project. It's worth reading in its entirety, but here's a good blurb:
"My work process consists of much over-layering of paint and images, mimicking, in reverse, the archaeological process of 'un-layering' in order to discover. Khoisan cave paintings often show images painted on top of older images by subsequent generations of cave painters, and I have used this process of working-over as a symbol of the destructive events of South African history in the gradual 'obliteration' of this country's aboriginal nation."

Simple art for kids inspired by his technique:

If you have multiple meetings, feel free to recreate his technique authentically.

In my case, I have one hour.

Black construction paper
Pastels (or crayons)
Toothpicks and other hard objects you can use to scratch

Use the pastels to cover parts of the black paper with thick, solid color. 
Use the toothpicks to scratch designs into the color, revealing the black underneath.

Don't be afraid to tell a story with your art!

You May Also Like