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Week 11 - The Art of Making People Laugh (family special)

Theme of the week: Humour

More and more families are participating in the Quarantined Museum community exhibition project. We have even heard from families who integrated the concept to their home schooling. In response, we would like to offer them one article per week intended for children aged 7 to 12. Of course, we recommend that families read it together to help each other and to discuss the themes!

There are no right or wrong answers. The whole family is invited to participate and discuss. You have the right to disagree, but you have to explain your point of view and listen to each other.

Let's start by thinking together about the following topics:

- What makes you laugh?

- Is art serious?

- Can we laugh in a museum?

Let's look at the following artwork:

Pierre Ayot, Femmes de toilette, 1980, sound installation with boots and coat. Gift of Mrs. Madeleine Forcier

Let's learn about the work and the artist:

- Pierre Ayot was born in Montreal in 1943 and died in 1995.

- Throughout his career, he was interested in silkscreen printing, painting, sculpture and installation.

- Ayot liked to shake up the traditional art world. Through his works, he wanted to surprise, shock, make people laugh, make them think and amuse them!

- The work entitled Femmes de toilette [Restroom Women] was presented at the Musée d'art de Joliette in 2016-17. However, it was not displayed in one of our exhibition rooms, but in the ladies' washroom on the 3rd floor! The latter had been exceptionally transformed into an exhibition space.

Silkscreen printing: Silkscreen printing is an image reproduction technique similar to stencil.

Let's take a look at the following details:

- What do we see?

- It is an artistic installation, namely a three-dimensional work created for a specific place (here a cubicle in the restroom) and designed to change the perception of space.

- The work consists of a soundtrack (the speakers are hidden), two pairs of boots and a coat.

- The boots can be seen under the door of the cabin. The coat hangs nonchalantly on the door. We can hear a discussion between two women.

- It is a trompe-l'oeil, because the soundtrack, which runs in a loop, gives the impression that two people are actually inside the cabin talking to each other.

- What do we hear?

- On the soundtrack, we hear two women artists (Pierrette and Aisha) talking to each other. We understand that they haven't seen each other for some time and they talk about their respective creative projects.

- Pierrette has made 915 life-size fabric mannequins that she wants to stage in a participatory installation, but in the meantime, they are stored in her living room.

- Aisha was a singer. She is now a lithographer. One of her colleagues accidentally ruined her last artwork. He dropped his lunch on it!

Lithography: This is a printing technique that allows for the creation and reproduction of multiple copies of a drawing executed in ink or pencil on limestone.

Let's make some links:

- Through this work, the artist:

- Creates an experience for visitors.

- Plays with museum conventions and standards. We are not in an exhibition room but in the women's restroom!

- Questions the functions of art.

- This brings us to:

- Reflect on the "sacred" or serious character of art and museums.

- Feel uncomfortable (we enter the intimacy of these two women), but it also arouses our curiosity (we want to listen quietly to their conversation).

- To laugh! The situation in the restroom is rather unusual and the women's comments are comical.

Let's have fun:

- Cut a large shape out of a polystyrene tray.

- Use a pencil to carve a funny drawing on it.

- Using a brush, cover the polystyrene shape with a thin coat of paint. Be careful not to use too much paint.

- Print your drawing on cardboard.

- You can clean your drawing and start again with different colours!

Now, can you tell me:

Now that you've read, observed, learned, and explored, have you changed your mind or can you add to your thinking from earlier?

- What makes you laugh?

- Can an artwork make you laugh? What does it take for you to guffaw?

- Can we laugh in the museum? Of course!

- Now it's your turn to create a comical piece that will make your whole family laugh!

- Don't forget to send the results to

Guffaw: This describes an explosive sound that is a sign of amusement, for example when bursting out laughing. 🤣😂

This activity was prepared by Ariane Cardinal, Curator of Education at the Musée d'art de Joliette.


You have until Wednesday at noon to send us your creations inspired by the theme of the week.


Click here for more information.

And click here to see all "family special" activities. 🎨 ✨

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