Activity: Self-Care through Art

Self-care is always important. In this time of uncertainty, when many people are focused on caring for others, it is even more critical that we remember to also prioritize are own emotional well-being and nurture ourselves. A first step is checking in with how you are feeling. Self-awareness begins with recognizing your emotions and thoughts, and reflecting on how they are influencing you. Art can be a useful tool for helping us identify and manage our emotions.

Spend some time looking at Yayoi Kusama’s painting while also focusing on yourself. What are you noticing in your body? What are you thinking about? How are you feeling?

When you are ready, select a color or shape in the picture that expresses how are you feeling. What is the emotion it expresses? What about that color or shape best expresses this feeling?

Grab a pencil and paper, or whatever tools you have handy. Start drawing some of the shapes you see in Kusama’s painting. Choose a shape and draw it over and over again, or even choose a section of the painting you’d like to draw. Tune into what you are feeling. What does this process contribute to how you feel? How might doing something differently change the way you feel? Try it!

When you are feeling like you are finished with drawing, take some time to learn about the importance of artmaking to Yayoi Kusama, who says art has always been her way to express and even manage her feelings. For her, the endless repetition of forms helps to silence the noise in her head.

Now, think about what kind of drawing might best foster peace of mind for you. Depending on what tools or materials you have available, try different things. Think about doodling, or shutting your eyes and letting your hand take over, or simply drawing the things around you that bring you peace of mind.

Or, make a drawing to express your personal strengths, challenges, or hopes. What do you want to show? What shapes, colors, lines, or images will best express your message?

Or, what kind of drawing could you make to express optimism during these times?

Kusama named the netlike patterns you see under the polka dots “infinity nets.” What will you call yours? Why?


Below, read Kusama’s optimistic and hopeful words about the pandemic:

Though it glistens just out of reach, I continue to pray for hope to shine through
Its glimmer lighting our way
This long awaited great cosmic glow

Now that we find ourselves on the dark side of the world
The gods will be there to strengthen the hope we have spread throughout the universe

For those left behind, each person’s story and that of their loved ones
It is time to seek a hymn of love for our souls
In the midst of this historic menace, a brief burst of light points to the future
Let us joyfully sing this song of a splendid future
Let’s go

Embraced in deep love and the efforts of people all over the world
Now is the time to overcome, to bring peace
We gathered for love and I hope to fulfill that desire
The time has come to fight and overcome our unhappiness

To COVID-19 that stands in our way
I say Disappear from this earth
We shall fight
We shall fight this terrible monster

Now is the time for people all over the world to stand up
My deep gratitude goes to all those who are already fighting.

Revolutionist of the world by the Art
From Yayoi Kusama


[Pictured: Yayoi Kusama (Japan, 1929), Untitled, 1967, Oil on canvas. The John R. Van Derlip Fund, 2010.7, © Yayoi Kusama]