PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Parents and kids will surely recognize these characters: Pigeon, Elephant and Piggie, Knuffle Bunny and more. Mo Willems is the author and illustrator, and now, he's created an exhibit with the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, but it may not be what you'd expect.
Colors and shapes pop out from everywhere in three-dimensional building blocks, two-dimensional drawings with stencils, doodles transformed by technology and large-scale paintings encircling it all by author and artist Mo Willems.
"Very seldom do you get to play with original art right there," Willems told KDKA's Kristine Sorensen as they walked through the exhibit at MuseumLab on the campus of the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.
The exhibit called "Opposites Abstract" is inspired by Willems' new book of the same name featuring his paired paintings that each ask a question.
"This is asking the question: 'Is this inclusion? And is this exclusion?'" he tells Sorensen, pointing to his paintings – one filled with squares but a tiny one missing and another mostly white with one small white square. "This one is 'Is this soft? And is this hard?'" he says as he references paintings with rounded lines and the other with straight lines.
Willems hopes this exhibit will make abstract art more approachable, giving families a chance to talk about it.
"Within that piece of abstract art, can you really play with 'What does red mean? What does a triangle feel like? How does it make me feel?'"
Willems and the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh took the concepts of abstract art and opposites and made them interactive.
Brothers Nate and Ben Heimann, ages 8 and 12, from Coraopolis are exploring sound sped up and slowed down, all while absorbing the art around them.
"They're shapes and colors and you can try and guess what it's trying to be. That's why I like it," Ben Heimann said.
Mo Willems hopes this exhibit inspires families to go home and be creative – whether it's drawing, writing a song, coming up with a play. And it all starts with the parents or caregiver.
Willems told Sorensen, "When a parent asks, 'Why is my kid not drawing or making art or being creative?' The question I first ask is: 'What are you doing?' If you're drawing and creating and laughing and enjoying that activity, it becomes cool and the kids are going to want to do it."
The exhibit "Opposites Abstract" is open on weekends only at MuseumLab which is next to the Children's Museum on the North Side. It'll be there until the fall and then will travel around the country.
For more, go visit Kidsburgh.org.
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