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Artist and author Hervé Tullet creates with kids at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Kristine Sorensen
October27/ 2016

This segment first appeared on KDKA-TV.

A French artist is creating a major art installation at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and he’s using local children to help him create it. Artist Hervé Tullet is best known as a children’s book author.  His book, “Press Here” has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for 162 weeks.  What makes it unique is how it encourages kids to interact with the book — touching it, shaking it, slamming it shut.  His books are a lot like the artwork he’s creating in Pittsburgh — inviting kids to interact with him and the canvas.

Inside the sun-filled art room at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Tullet is the conductor leading the children who are making music on the canvas.  Using a microphone, he directs the children, “I want to see a circle… I want to see a circle,” he repeats.  They sit on the floor painting in their chosen color — red, blue or yellow.  Then, minutes later, he has them move to another part of the canvas and gives new instructions, ” the line must travel.  You must move along with the line,” he says.  He gives directions to draw circles, lines, dots on lines but leaves much to the children’s imaginations.

At times, Tullet plays while he paints, engaging 4-year old Elyana Wilson in a paint brush battle.   The children are as young as one and all are in the moment, following the prompts in their own way.

Abby Van Korlaar of Pittsburgh brought her 3-year-old daughter to paint with Tullet.  “He’s an amazing artist and author,” she says, “so to have this experience in Pittsburgh is really cool.”

Tullet says he chooses children to be the artists for a reason.  He explains, “I don’t see children. When I’m performing a workshop, I don’t think they are children.  I think they are my brushes.”

Once Tullet decides the canvas is finished with the kids’ hands, he adds his own touches to the children’s work. He will later transform all of these banners into his first big art installation which will hang in the Children’s Museum in February called “Art Explosion.”

In the same art room where Tullet leads the workshops, caregivers are reading his books to their children.  The images in the books look a lot like the artwork he and the kids are creating in the workshop.  Parent Nida Wilson from Squirrel Hill brought her son and daughter, ages 4 and 2, because they have enjoyed Tullet’s books at home for years.  She says meeting the artist and seeing him work gives her a new perspective on his books.  “I’m actually really looking forward to reading his books at home and seeing how this workshop enriches our art and reading.”  The thing she loves most about Tullet’s book is they “really inspire children to use their imagination.”

That’s just what Tullet wants.  He hopes his books and his art workshops inspire kids and adults to see the world differently, one book and one brushstroke at a time.

Where: Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh: Studio

When: Oct. 25 – Oct. 30

Wednesday, October 26th, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm (Artist Talk/Workshop for Adults)

Friday, October 28th, 11:00 am- 12:00 pm

Saturday, October 29th, 1:00 pm- 2:00 pm

Sunday, October 30th, 1:30 pm- 2:30 pm

Please note: Hervé’s art workshops can get messy and involve non-washable paint. If you plan to paint, please bring or wear old clothes. Free with Museum admission

Kristine Sorensen

I am proud to work at KDKA-TV -- anchoring the news, hosting Pittsburgh Today Live and doing special reports. I am married to KDKA reporter Marty Griffin and we have 3 children. I first moved to Pittsburgh in 1999 but I’ve lived in Dallas, Johnson City, Tenn., Chicago, Williamsburg, Va., Milwaukee and Winter Park, Fla. Pittsburgh is now the place I call home.