By Kristine Sorensen

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A French artist is creating a major art installation at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and he’s using local children to help him create it.

Artist Hervé Tullet is best known as a children’s book author. His book, “Press Here” has been on the New York Times Best Seller List for 162 weeks. What makes it unique is how it encourages kids to interact with the book — touching it, shaking it, slamming it shut.

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His books are a lot like the artwork he’s creating in Pittsburgh — inviting kids to interact with him and the canvas.

Inside the sun-filled art room at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Tullet is the conductor leading the children who are making music on the canvas. Using a microphone, he directs the children.

“I want to see a circle…I want to see a circle,” he repeats.

They sit on the floor painting in their chosen color — red, blue or yellow. Then, minutes later, he has them move to another part of the canvas and gives new instructions.

“The line must travel. You must move along with the line,” he says.

He gives directions to draw circles, lines, dots on lines, but leaves much to the children’s imaginations.

At times, Tullet plays while he paints, engaging 4-year old Elyana Wilson in a paint brush battle. The children are as young as 1 and all are in the moment, following the prompts in their own way.

Abby Van Korlaar of Pittsburgh, brought her 3-year-old daughter to paint with Tullet.

“He’s an amazing artist and author,” she says. “So, to have this experience in Pittsburgh is really cool.”

Tullet says he chooses children to be the artists for a reason.

“I don’t see children. When I’m performing a workshop, I don’t think they are children. I think they are my brushes,” he says.

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Once Tullet decides the canvas is finished with the kids’ hands, he adds his own touches to their work. He will later transform all of the banners into his first big art installation, which will hang in the Children’s Museum in February called “Art Explosion.”

In the same art room where Tullet leads the workshops, caregivers are reading his books to their children. The images in the books look a lot like the artwork he and the kids are creating in the workshop.

Parent Nida Wilson, of Squirrel Hill, brought her son and daughter, ages 4 and 2, because they have enjoyed Tullet’s books at home for years.

She says meeting the artist and seeing him work gives her a new perspective on his books.

“I’m actually really looking forward to reading his books at home and seeing how this workshop enriches our art and reading,” she says.

The thing she loves most about Tullet’s book is they, “really inspire children to use their imagination.”

That’s just what Tullet wants. He hopes his books and his art workshops inspire kids and adults to see the world differently, one book and one brushstroke at a time.

For more information about fun, family-friendly activities going on in Pittsburgh, visit Kidsburgh’s website here.

Where: Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh: Studio

When: Oct. 25 – Oct. 30

Wednesday, Oct. 26, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. (Artist Talk/Workshop for Adults)
Friday, Oct. 28, 11 a.m.- noon
Saturday, Oct. 29, 1 p.m.- 2 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 30, 1:30 p.m.- 2:30 p.m.

Please note: Hervé’s art workshops can get messy and involve non-washable paint. If you plan to paint, please bring or wear old clothes. Free with Museum admission.

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Kristine Sorensen