by Victoria L.

Grand Gesture

This assignment follows Small Gestures.

Mark Robert Barry
UH 210 – Studioless Art & Creative Process
The University of Alabama


Use found materials to create one grand visual gift for the public.


  • Practice public art.
  • Recognize the aesthetic potential of ordinary objects.
  • Recontextualize nature and litter into art.
  • Creatively improvise with limited resources.
  • Skillfully execute an unconventional craft


Required Tools and Materials:

  • objects found outdoors (Students may not use any material or tool they did not find outdoors.)
  • camera


  • 120 minutes, minimum


  • Explore the outdoors.
  • Find and collect interesting materials in bulk, natural or unnatural.
  • Find strategic outdoor location that would be optimal for displaying a gift.
  • Create a grand visual gift by altering and/or rearranging the collected materials.
  • Thoroughly photo-document each gift immediately after its installation.
  • Leave the gift unattended for consumption by the public and natural forces.


Create one grand visual gift. It may be made of entirely natural, unnatural, or a mix of materials

Even though this is a grand gesture, your design may be very simple.
Think, plan, and execute simply; however, utilize repetition to produce impressive size or complexity. For simplicity, consider emphasizing a basic visual element, such as color, light, line, shape, or pattern.

Display the gift strategically. Think about what you will create, but also where you will create. Consider things like visibility, exposure to elements, and pedestrian traffic. The gift and its location should be interdependent.

Take advantage of the weather. This may mean not wasting a warm sunny day, or it may mean employing the rain to accomplish creative tasks for you.

These artworks should emphasize vision and aesthetics, not concepts. Think back to our sensory reset walk, when simply beholding light, color, and texture felt like a joyful gift.

Thoroughly photo-document each gift. These photographs will be used in class for critique. These photographs may be merely factual; no artistry is required. Make sure your photographs are clear and uncluttered (no backpacks or Wal-Mart sacks). Also, take multiple photographs of each artwork from various distances (up-close, far away) and angles (above, eye-level, ground-level). Try to provide a good sense of the artwork’s site.

Submit three or four images (minimum) of each artwork on Blackboard, at least 1 hour prior to the critique.

Do not damage University property. As “gifts”, these gestures should be generous, not destructive. It’s okay to pick some generic berries or leaves, but don’t cause any damage to University landscaping.

Do not create anything permanent. Consider designing your artworks so that, within a few hours or days, they will be naturally blown or washed away, or trampled to pieces by passersby. If any of your artworks survive longer than three days, please dismantle them yourself.

Do not invest your artworks with overt concepts; rather, create aesthetic gifts. For example, don’t arrange litter to read ‘Save the Planet’. Don’t use text, and avoid symbols like hearts, smiley faces, and peace signs. Cliche symbols can and will cause conceptual distractions from your aesthetic purposes.


Students are evaluated with consideration to craftsmanship and effort, following directions, and quality participation during critique.


by Sarah B.
by Sarah B.
by Tess S.
by Tess S.
by David N.
by David N.
by Michal S.
by Michal S.
Featured image by Victoria L.
This assignment is based on one originally designed by Stephen Watson. Used and altered with permission.