What Ordinary Object Best Represents You?

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Artwork by Jessayln Aaland

To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #DoNowObject

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.

Do Now

Select an everyday object or material as your personal symbol. What object or material did you choose, and what might it signify about you?


Where do artists find their inspiration? You might be surprised to learn that for many artists, inspiration often comes from ordinary, everyday objects, experiences, and materials.

In addition to traditional art materials like paint, ink, or clay, some artists create their works using commonplace materials. In the video below, artist Gu Wenda describes an installation he created for SFMOMA in 2013 using a very nontraditional material: human hair. Wenda believes hair symbolizes all of humanity, particularly in a multicultural society.

What ordinary or everyday material or object best represents you? Try to think of something that might not be obvious at first. For example, a magnifying glass might show that you like to examine the world carefully and understand how and why something happens. Feathers, on the other hand, might say that you are light and carefree, or perhaps independent. A balloon could show that you are playful or joyous. Perhaps there’s a specific object that has personal significance for you, such as a gift from a loved one or a treasured item you found on a walk.


VIDEO: Gu Wenda on United Nations — Babel of the Millennium (SFMOMA)
Artist Gu Wenda reflects on united nations—babel of the millennium, the site-specific installation he created for SFMOMA, and explains how his art unifies races and unites people.

To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowObject

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.


We encourage students to reply to other people's tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people's ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets. You can visit our video tutorials that showcase how to use several web-based production tools. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.

More Resources

VIDEO: Gu Wenda Describes His Artistic Process (SFMOMA)
In the following video, Wenda describes another everyday material used in his installation: Elmer’s glue, the kind we might be most familiar with from elementary school classrooms

VIDEO: Mining the Internet with Jenny Odell (KQED Art School)
Jenny Odell uses images sourced from the internet to create projects that consider identity through objects, including her “Garbage Selfie” project.

VIDEO: Rosana Castrillo Díaz on Finding Meaning in the Everyday (SFMOMA)
Artist Rosana Castrillo Díaz explains how discovering special moments in daily life can inspire us.

LESSON: Jessica Stockholder: Where Does Art Come From? (SFMOMA)
Jessica Stockholder’s Open Studio asks students to create combinations of 20 or more ordinary objects.