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The Art of Tara Donovan with Kids

We had the great pleasure of visiting the Pace Gallery pop-up in Menlo Park, CA to see Tara Donovan: Untitled. I’ll give you a peek into our experience and share some ideas on how to bring Tara Donovan’s work to life with kids.

While Silicon Valley is a hotbed for tech innovations, it’s contemporary art scene is growing. And this show gives hope that we’ll see more exciting art in our neighborhood in the future! Enter:

Tara Donovan…

tara donovan text

The gallery is housed in the former Tesla car showroom, and the make-shift space added an element of spectacle to the exhibition. My three-year old took this afternoon as a chance to practice her tour guide skills, and we were off!

Family Vist to Tara Donovan | TinkerLab

First up, these incredible orbs made from rolled mylar. One of the more striking things about Tara Donovan’s work is how she repurposes manmade objects into organic forms.

tara donovan mylar

Donovan’s sculptural installations were just the thing to help us practice perspective-taking.

We spent a lot of time looking at works of art up close and then far away. Because we had most of the galleries to ourselves, my kids took many opportunities to get up close and personal with the art.

Can you tell what this installation (below) is made of?

tara donovan pencils

How about with a closer look?

tara donovan pencils 2

While it doesn’t photograph as well as it looks in person, this piece (below) was spectacular. It was a wall of clear straws, layered one on top of the other. The straws were then formed into rounded waves that popped from the wall at different distances. Walking back and forth along the wall created implied movement in the piece, and it was mesmerizing.

tara donovan straws

My little one continued to tour us around…

tara donovan

And the guards, I almost forgot them!  The San Jose Museum of Art, where I last worked, had the most incredible guards who were all trained to be…friendly (gasp!) and talk with visitors about the art. I’m seeing more and more of this now, and was so impressed with the warmth of the PACE guards. They were lovely!

Can you tell what this next piece is made from? Take a good look!

Family Visit to Tara Donovan | TinkerLab

How about now? Isn’t that great?!

tara donovan nails

Hands-on Tara Donovan for Kids

Tara Donovan started working with materials such as toothpicks and buttons out of a need to make art on a very tight budget. She’s since become a master at using inexpensive, everyday materials to build organic forms. A few days after visiting the show I brought out some mini cupcake liners and white school glue, and we got busy upcycling these materials into new objects. So fun!

To make art in the style of Tara Donovan:

  1. Choose a common material that you have access to multiples of such as cupcake liners, pencils, toothpicks, or index cards.
  2. Think about how you can combine these materials to create a sculpture or installation. The artwork could be permanent or ephemeral.
  3. Build your design.

Turn cupcake liners into Art, inspired by Tara Donovan | TinkerLab

Turn cupcake liners into Art, inspired by Tara Donovan | TinkerLab

A question for you…

What was the last gallery or museum that you visited? Can you remember the last show that you were inspired by? This show takes the cake for me!

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! We live in the area and my 5 yo daughter is a budding artist. She will love this and I’m going to plan a mommy daughter date before the exhibit is gone. Yay!

  2. I saw a Tara Donovan exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver and was so inspired by her work. I love to give my students everyday objects to create with! It is so much fun to see where their creativity takes them.

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