Surrealism began in the 1920s and is an art and literary movement. It involved artists like Salvidore Dali, Rene Magritte, and Max Ernst. Surrealist art surprises the viewer, putting together elements that wouldn’t normally go together. It is characterized by an attempt to show the imagination and dream-world in a visual form.
Naoshi (Naoko Kikuchi) is a Japanese artist famous for her sand paintings, called Sunae. I had the pleasure of being asked to review a copy of her new book, Ice Cream Work, which is a surrealist treat for the eyes. Each page is another one of Naoshi’s lush sand paintings, showcasing a different day of the week in the life of Ice Cream Man. The reader should consider this book not only a wonderful introduction to Sunae (since all of the illustrations in the book are sand paintings) but also a great introduction to surrealism. Normal scenes like road construction are merged with food having human-like qualities and the main character, Ice Cream Man, has a different unusual job for each day, like being a construction cone or golf ball. Other pages show animals with clothes peaking out on golf course hills and lemon head people bathing in tea cups. The juxtaposition of ordinary scenes with simply fantastical elements make each page a surprise.
This book is great for children and the “look and find” pages in the back of the book are not only fun but also make sure kids really look at each art spread. My son LOVED going through the book and finding all the little details.
The book concludes with a brief introduction on how to make your own Sunae. I know I was inspired after reading the book and was eager to make my own sand painting!
Luckily for me– and you– Naoshi makes awesome little sand painting kits, like this one for Ice Cream Girl.
Each kit has a prepared board, sand in various colors, a toothpick (for peeling off the sticker board covering), and directions. After the Kiddo and I read the book, did the “look & find” pages, and talked about surrealism and Sunae, we made our own Sunae with the kit.
My six-year old and I completed the project together, and with my help, it was easy enough for him to do (some of the small sticker coverings need patience and a fine touch to get off). Making this kit also made the true beauty and complexity of Naoshi’s illustrations in Ice Cream Work hit home. I cannot imagine how long each page must have taken her. You could round out this “unit” even more by pulling out the globe or atlas to point out where Japan is, talking about other forms of sand art like traditional sand mandalas, and looking at the work of Dali and other Surrealists. Ice Cream Work is a great jumping off point for lots of other projects.
Since I think you will be fascinated with Naoshi’s work, too, I am happy to share a copy of Ice Cream Work, along with a Sunae kit, with you! Just leave a comment here on this blog post (make sure you leave an email address you check regularly) between now and Friday October 16, and you will be entered in my giveaway. Unfortunately, this giveaway is only open to those in the U.S.
Update: 10/26/15: Winner!! The randomly selected winner is comment #4, Michele, who said “Oh I think we would love this! We love modern art.” Thank you to everyone who entered. I am emailing Michele now and will give her a day or two to respond, then pick another person if I don’t hear back. Thanks again!
*While I received two free sets that included a copy of Ice Cream Work and a sunae kit (one to review and one to give away), all opinions are strictly my own.