CMA Stories

“CMA is not just a place for children to learn. It is also for adults as well, and I am an example of that belief” — DIY Art Projects + Interview with CMA Artist Yung Oh Le Page

Longtime friend of CMA Yung Oh Le Page is sharing How-To-style videos on his YouTube page! Check out the videos below and read on for an interview with Yung about his practice as a cardboard artist, his favorite CMA memory (it involves his daughter!), and advice on how to address challenging subjects with children. Don’t forget to show us what you come up with using the hashtag #cmanychallenge.

Thaumatrope Project

Agamograph Project

Paper View

Pixelated Shadow Puppets

Mondrian Lichtenstein Mashup

Trading Cards

Blind Contour Drawing

Can you tell us about your art practice and how working with children inspires you?

I am a cardboard artist, usually applying it to sculpture, and lately to set design. When I became a Teaching Artist, I included cardboard in many of my lessons, as children can really relate to the material. I always tell my students that in order to get good at something they need to have a lot of time to experiment with it, whether it be paints, clay, fabric, etc. Cardboard is unique because it is everywhere, for free!

You have been involved with CMA for over 8 years! How did you come to work with CMA?

I started as a Teaching Artist at CMA shortly after they moved to their current location in Hudson Square. I have always wanted to work in museums, and I had just begun trying my hand at teaching. It seemed like a perfect match, and I am fortunate that CMA took me on.  I am also fortunate that other, more experienced TAs were so generous with their advice and experience. I have always been a strong believer that CMA is not just a place for children to learn. It is also for adults as well, and I am an example of that belief.

Do you have a favorite CMA memory or project that you have created for the Museum?

If I had to narrow it down to just one, it would be one based on the sport of roller derby. The back story is that my daughter had been going to CMA up to this point for years, having many wonderful experiences making art and enjoying all of the opportunities the Museum had to offer.  When we had the Game On exhibit, I had my daughter help me come up with a gallery project based on her sport of roller derby and have her help teach it. The reason why this project stands out for me is because it is what I would like for every child to do at CMA, which is to learn and then to eventually teach what they have learned.

How does art have the power to connect and support community bonds? Why is it important to make art accessible to all children and families?

I am a big fan of public art that reflects the community and its inhabitants. Unfortunately, sometimes with gentrification, we see public art done by the gentrifiers, and not include those who are long time residents. That sends a bad message and creates division, which could be avoided if a relationship was established between the two. Everyone must have access to this process because there are so many stories that must be told, but many times there are barriers for those who do not have a big enough voice to be a part of the discussion. As soon as those barriers are down, understanding and appreciation can create bonds that a community led art experience can help foster.

What advice do you have for parents who want to address serious global issues with their children? Is there a way to use art to facilitate these conversations?

As a parent to a young child myself, I try to address these big issues on their level, letting them have equal say in the conversation and to be a good listener. I then try to tune in to their emotional well-being and give them opportunities to process those feelings through the art-making process.  Many times this is me noticing them being sad or anxious, and then I offer some prompts such as “how would you draw that feeling?” or “what song do you want to play to dance along with?” I can’t stress enough that parents should find out what kind of art-making their child likes to do and then provide ample opportunity to do it.

Do you have a favorite memory of making art as a child?

Much of my childhood was spent at a table with friends and siblings drawing the afternoon away. We would all get stuck on the same subject and keep drawing pictures about it forever, it seems. Our imaginations would really get a workout as we drew on the backs of repurposed manilla file cards my grandmother would bring home from her job as a state clerk.  There was always access to a lot of them so we practiced and practiced our drawing skills until we got really good at putting our ideas to paper.

Can you share a work or artist that inspires you to make art?

Currently, I really appreciate the Watts Towers by Simon Rodia. Rodia enlisted the help of local children, whom he paid, to collect glass bottles in the area, which was near a soda bottling plant. He incorporated that glass throughout his structure, which the overall shape is informed by the streets surrounding it. It truly is a community-driven work, but also very personal to him since he lived there. Also, I can appreciate that the work is created by a man who could not read nor write, showing even a marginalized individual can create great works.

While our doors are closed, CMA is here for you and your family with at-home art projects to keep children entertained and engaged. However, every day we’re closed puts the future of CMA in further jeopardy. 

Will you be there for us? Every dollar you donate directly supports the Museum and ensures that CMA will remain a pillar of educational and artistic leadership in New York City. Click here to donate.

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