Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Sculpture Theory and Resources

Mo Willems' The Red Elephant

Meghan Burch

Last Saturday, a very large, very red sculpture was installed in the Museum’s terrace. The Red Elephant, on long term loan by its artist Mo Willems, is made of steel and weighs around 1500 lbs. The sculpture couldn’t have happened without the collaborative effort of metal sculptor Sam Ostroff. Though Mo has been playing around with welding and metalwork himself, this sculpture was designed knowing Sam and his team would be the fabricators.

Installation of the Red Elephant at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Mo said in a post-installation presentation about The Red Elephant’s journey to completion: “You never want to be the smartest guy in the room. You have to know when to get out of the way.” I love it when artists share with kids just how collaborative and social the art making process can (must?) be. Mo shared how his work in fine art, animation, theater, and picture books are made stronger when he allows others’ ideas and skills to take his ideas farther than he could on his own.

The Red Elephant at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Speaking of collaboration. It was quite the collaborative effort to get the steel pachyderm in place after all the rain made the tow truck stick in the mud.

In the Art Studio at The Carle

And while we’re discussing the collaborative spirit that was celebrated last Saturday, let me share some images of the paper maquettes and cardboard sculptures we invited visitors to create for the occasion. Mom and son discussed ways to make this orange piece stand (above).

The Eric Carle Museum Art Studio

Collaborative effort in getting Elephant- inspired cardboard sculptures collage-ified.

the Art Studio at The Carle Museum

This family worked together to turn the one below into dragon. It ended up having 4 mustaches. What I’m now dying to know is how it breathes fire without burning all the mustaches? Family, if you’re reading this, please let me know!

Public Art Program- Making Sculptures and Maquettes    


Meghan, smiling and wearing a grey shirt with a blue background.

Meghan Burch

Art Educator from 2003-2016, Meghan has a BFA in Illustration from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She tries to think with materials and work with her hands every day.