Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Sample of Robert Indiana's LOVE art. Leader Resource 2, Robert Indiana's LOVE Image. Indiana never copyrighted the image, so you can locate many reproductions. One image on the Internet is on the website for Wichita State University's Sculpture Garden. Another is located at Answers.com.
- Watercolor paints and brushes, or other materials for making love art; markers and plain paper will always do, but something different might be more fun. Oil pastels such as CrayPas are easy and satisfying to use
- Tarps, newspapers, or other protective covers for work surfaces
- Optional: Music player and background music
Preparation for Activity
- Decide on your approach to the art.
- Prepare appropriate spaces, protecting them as necessary for the art supplies you have chosen.
Description of Activity
This activity introduces the idea of universal love and asks youth to create art to express that concept.
Introduce the subject with ideas like these:
If everybody in the world felt good about everybody in it, then people would be nicer to each other than they often are. They would do more right for each other, and less wrong to each other. The idea of feeling kind and positive toward everybody is called "universal love." It is a different kind of love than romantic love.
The Christian Bible speaks of love in a very famous passage from the first book of Corinthians. It says that without love, "I am nothing." It adds that even when other important things like knowledge disappear, three important things remain. They are faith, hope, and love. And "the greatest of these," the Bible says, "is love."
If your youth enjoy discussing ideas, say that many religions promote universal love. In the Christian religion, this kind of love is also called "charity" or "agape." Love is also important to Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism. A branch of Islam called Sufism is an example. Sufis say that God is universal love. The Sufi poet Rumi wrote often about love some 800 years ago. "Love is the Water of Life," he wrote. Smaller religions, too, often call for belief in universal love. One such religion, called the Temple of Love, wants to unite people of all religions in love as a first step toward world peace.
Say that many works of art also express the idea of universal love. Ask if your youth have seen such works of art. Mention that one of the most famous pieces was first created by Robert Indiana as a Christmas card in 1964. It shows the word "LOVE" with a tilted "O" and with all the letters connecting. Since 1964, that image has appeared in many places in many different forms, including large public sculptures in Philadelphia and at least sixteen other cities. It also appeared on a postage stamp in 1973. Show the group a sample of Indiana's work. You can find photographs on the Internet of many of the statues mentioned above. A copy of the postage stamp is included in Resources.
Ask if the group believes that artwork about universal love can help spread that love. Can it help bring more right and less wrong to the world? Is creating such art a virtuous act?
Say that you will now give the youth a chance to increase universal love by creating their own works of art about it. Say they can play with the letters of the word "LOVE" as Indiana did, or paint any other image that they think expresses the idea of universal love and could help build it.
Make appropriate art supplies available. Consider playing quiet background music to help nurture creativity. See Resources for ideas.
Save several moments at the end of the activity for youth to share their creations. Place the art where it can safely dry if the medium you have chosen requires that. If possible, arrange to display the completed works for others to see.