The first time I laid eyes on Simon Sparrow’s art, I was amazed. The details and the range of objects involved in the making of these is incredible!
Simon was a self-taught artist known for his intricately detailed mixed media assemblages. He was born in West Africa in 1925. At the age of two his family moved to North Carolina where he was raised on a Cherokee reservation. After living in Philadelphia and New York and serving in the army (among other jobs), he eventually settled in Madison, Wisconsin in the 1970s. Sparrow became a well-known street preacher and artist in Madison.
His spiritual beliefs crossed over into his artwork. With inspiration from what he called “spirit”, Sparrow used discarded materials to create his mosaic-like art, including jewelry, plastic figurines and toys, beads, pine cones, glitter, and other unconventional art materials. He even decorated his entire car in glitter and found objects.
Sparrow passed away in 2000 at the age of 85. In 2012, he was recognized for his work as a recipient of the Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Award. His work has been included in several exhibitions and was featured on a 2009 episode of Antiques Roadshow. His art is also included in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Intuit: The Center for Intuitive & Outsider Art.
Project For Kids (Or Adults!)
We recently worked on a project for kids based on the art of Simon Sparrow. As you can imagine, the kids were excited about using the recycled materials to create their work. We did this project with 6 to 8 year old children, but it can be taught to a range of ages, and the materials can be varied based on skill level. For example, older kids can use hot glue guns. With the younger kids, we used a non-toxic glue, Aleene’s Clear School Tacky Glue. Also, in order to prevent a disastrous glitter mess, but still pay tribute to Sparrow’s love of glitter, we used washable glitter pens.
For a full FREE art project plan, please click here. Enjoy! Please let us know how your projects turn out.