Exploring “How Many?” at the Hirshhorn

Yayoi Kusama is a Tokyo based artist that explores the concept of infinity in her artwork. Her process tends to be is repetitive, incorporates polka dots of various sizes and is known for her infinity mirror rooms. Last year she installed the exhibit Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC and now one of her pumpkins is on permanent display in the scPumpkin by Yayoi Kusamaulpture garden. While her work explores infinity, there are a finite amount of dots in this pumpkin.

Christopher Danielson‘s book, How Many? encourages and helps facilitate mathematical dialogs with kids that move beyond just counting objects to developing curiosity through describing methods behind pattern making.

On Twitter, I posted three photos of the Pumpkin with the question “How Many?” To use these photos in the classroom, I would combine revealing the images through the Project Zero Thinking RoutineZoom-In.

Reveal the First Photo:

Ask students: How many dots? What would help you answer this question? What do you think this is a photo of?

Let the students dialog about the photo; some will want to count the dots, some will make an estimate. Make sure to ask the students to explain their reasoning by asking “What makes you say that?”

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Reveal the Second Photo:

Ask students: How many dots do you think there are now? What would help you answer this question? How does this photo change your hypothesis or thinking?

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Reveal the Last Photo:

Ask students: How many dots cover the pumpkin? What other information would help you answer this question? Why do you think the artist, Yayoi Kusama, chose to make a pumpkin sculpture and why did she use dots? This piece is part of the exhibit “Infinity Mirrors,” what is she saying about numbers?

Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama

If you use this in the classroom, please share with me how it went and what you altered. I would love to know how it goes and how to improve the questions.

Thank you for stopping by my blog.

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