Colorful coffee filter sculpture – Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

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Colorful coffee filter sculpture

Transform a flat coffee filter into a sculptural work of art inspired by artist Sam Gilliam. All you need is a coffee filter, some markers, and a spray bottle or cup of water.

[time] 30–40 minutes
[skill level] beginner
[topic] 2D to 3D transformation

Portrait of artist Sam Gilliam

Sam Gilliam portrait by Fredrik Nilsen Studio

Artist Sam Gilliam (b. 1933) is a painter and member of the Washington Color School. During the 1960s and ’70s, many people thought African Americans should make art about civil rights. Sam Gilliam defied this by making colorful experimental works inspired by the world around him.

Sam Gilliam, Ruby Light (1972)

One of the things that inspired Sam Gilliam was laundry hanging from clotheslines. He liked the way it looked and began to drape the canvas of his paintings. With your child, look up images of city clotheslines or hang something from a clothesline inside your own home. How does it look?


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