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.

What Ordinary Object Best Represents You? 8 March,2017SFMOMA Education

  • ivory jenkins

    An everyday object that describes me could most likely be a belt. A belt is very important when keeping things together right ? Such as pants or shorts. Well I’m like the belt in many ways. I am the type of person that always would bring people together. Whether its my football team mates , or my family.

    • Great idea, Ivory! I love that you chose such a simple item and really thought about what it could represent.

  • Savannah O.

    A single object that represents me would be a microphone.
    A microphone represents me because I am a lover of music and singing. I enjoy these things. They are a lot more to me than a hobby, but more of a way of life. Music is a way of expressing myself and how I am feeling.

    • Thanks for sharing, Savannah! What other objects could represent your musical nature? It sounds like a microphone really helps you express yourself!

  • Relaximjacob

    I am represented by a plant. Though I am rooted to the ground and very down to earth, I take things most people think of as waste or things that are not useful anymore, such as old newspaper, then take it and make things out of it like paper mâché similar to what a plant does to carbon dioxide.

    • Very cool! Is there a specific kind of plant that really captures who you are?

  • OM

    My hair represents me. What it looks like determines both how i felt when i did it and how I

    • Did you see Nathaniel and Raynika’s posts about hair, or Gu Wenda’s artwork made of hair? I like how you think about the different ways your hair is styled might represent your different moods.

  • Crissy Costanza

    I think an ordinary object that represents me would probably be a fisherman’s anchor. The reason I chose this object is because there is this fisherman’s cross necklace that is passed down in my family so not only does it represent me, but it represents my entire family.

    • Wow, very cool Crissy! That’s an unusual object, and I like how it has a family story attached to it for you.

  • Donquel Sullen

    Something that represents me is a firework. I believe it represents me because fireworks are exciting and they show happiness and carefree life. I am full of punk and happiness and many other great things associated and unpredictable and spontaneous happiness.

    • Donquel, a firework is so creative! It sounds like you probably have a lot of energy and really know how to get people around you excited about life!

  • Karolynn Declouet

    An object that represents me is my phone. I do everything with my phone. I watch tv shows on my phone, call family on my phone, texts friends on my phone, and use my phone for internet. I do not let my phone control me, but I do know that I would be lost without it.

    • Karolynn, it sounds like your relationships to other people in your life are very important to you, and your phones helps you manage them.

  • Stacy B

    I would say that an ordinary item that represents me and who I am, is an ordinary ball point pen. This represents me because it is one of the main things that I use to create art. Almost every piece of art that I have created has been started off with a ball point pen, and then made into something bigger. In my opinion, it magnifies my ability and what I am able to do with art.

    • Stacy, I like how you mention a pen is a starting point for you, and it seems like it gets your thinking going!

  • Coley Ransaw

    This a typical form of art and my form of art would be with a pencil and a piece of paper. Drawing is my form of art and describes me a lot. By doing this I will be able to show my imagination

  • Jovianna Thomas

    Something that represents me would be water. Water is calm and cool which I tend to be most of the time. When I sea a body of water like a river when I’m in the car it always amazes me. Water is interesting to me.

    • Awesome, Jovianna! What about when water becomes powerful or even dangerous, like in a storm?

  • Krystyn B

    An ordinary object that best represents me is strangely my earrings or piercings. I don’t have too too many but each of them represent a memory or something i have done or places i have been. Each summer i’d get a new one just as a memory or right before or after a big event that could or has changed my life i’d get one. To me its like a thing that i choose to change, i guess like a sense of control, and not something an outside source can change.

    • Thanks for sharing Krystyn! A lot of people like to get piercings or tattoos for this reason, and I love how you reflect on how they represent control over your life. Is there one in particular that is very special for you?

  • josegordillo

    i am represented by a bag of munchies. I am represented so because the food item is a mix of many food items to create one amazing snack.i am a mix of many diffrent moods and charecteristics that vary with each peroson i am with.

    • Cool, Jose! What type of :munchies” are in your snack bag?

  • raynika patton

    My hair represents me because it as well as my personality is big and bold . My glasses also represents me not only because i am smart but because it represents the ablility to magnify things and look from a different and clearer perspective.

    • I love how you think about the function of glasses and what they might represent! Did you see Nathaniel’s post about hair above, and Gu Wenda’s artwork made completely of hair?

  • darrius Harvey

    I feel as though fashion represents or symbolizes me. This is because just hearing about fashion excites me. Fashion expresses my feelings , & it is also my passion. Others may be art or music , however fashion seems to be more than art & music to me. It has a sense of art in it , being that art is my next passion. Furthermore , art is another thing that symbolizes me.

    • Is there a specific type of fashion or article of clothing that really shows who you are?

  • J pen

    The item that represents me would be a book . I would say a book because with a book you can continue to write about new adventures and experiences . I tend to write down new things that happen in my life.

    • Cool! So do you think an empty diary would be the best kind of book to represent you?

  • Nathaniel Manson

    An item that represents me would be hair. Hair is constantly growing and replacing the old cells with new cells. I am constantly growing in knowledge and getting rid of the old useless information.

    • How cool! I love how you brought in your knowledge of science here. Did you check out the Gu Wenda piece? It’s all made of human hair!

  • Kiana Bartolome

    A pencil is what represents me the most in everyday terms because I’m always trying to leave a mark on my friends lives, but mess up a lot so I try erase it away or cover my mistakes.

    • Kiana, I love how you brought up one of the parts of the pencil and what it could represent about you!

  • Jessica Aragonez

    The item or items that represents me it would be my makeup because I like wearing it all the time even though I love to go bare as well. I feel makeup represents me just because I can play around with it and have a simple look or even a dramatic look the reason why I like this is because I can look professional or I can look like a chill person. Makeup can also cover my imperfections. Although makeup is one item that represents who I am because I can be dramatic at times but I can also be simple as makeup can be.

    • Jessica, it sounds like your makeup also symbolizes your control of yourself–how you express yourself, and how you represent yourself to others!

  • Miguel Jack

    An object that represents me is my cellphone. It can be very reliable at times but tends to run slow when i have several things running in the background, which i can relate to.

    • Miguel, I like how you think about the way your personal cell phone works here!

  • Shiloh Williams

    An everyday object that would represents me would be a pencil and/or a sketchbook. These objects go well with my artistic personality. The reason for my pencil is that with a pencil you can create whatever you want with your imagination letting ones mind go where it please to express oneself through art. The sketchbook represents my will to step into the unknown and make something new with my imagination and creativity.

    • Shiloh, it sounds like you are someone who really values freedom and expression!

  • Jakeesia Harvey

    An everyday item that would represent me as a person would probably be my cell phone . The first reason i say this is because, with my cell phone I keep up with friends and family who I love . Second, I love to take pictures . In conclusion, I love to write like im writing in a diary and I love to write songs, and with my phone I can go in my notes section and write what I want to . #AJHSHardee

    • Jakeesia, it sounds like you are very social, expressive, and organized! Thanks for sharing!

  • dan.b

    @KQEDEdSpace #DoNowObject #mrg415 I think the object that would represent me as a person is a chair because I am sturdy and always there for you.

  • Erica Liang

    An object that best represents me is a microphone because I am very talkative and love conversing with other people. This might signify that I am social and communicative, and always willing to share my opinions or thoughts.

    • Erica, I agree, a microphone seems like a great symbol for someone who likes to share their opinions!

  • Darren H.

    My sketchbooks are what will probably represent me the best. All my thoughts and everything my crazy mind imagines goes into the sketchbook. It is where I can express anything that I want to, and by looking through I can also tell what I was thinking or feeling at that time. I am often too afraid to express my thoughts or worries out loud, and my sketch book acts as a way to show it visually.

    • May N.

      That’s the beauty of art, you get to express all the feeling you’ve withheld into your work. It seems like a great outlet for those who are unable to let out their feelings.

  • Ezra Quianzon

    An everyday object that would represent me would have to be a pillow because I go to school everyday sleepy and on the weekends, all I want to do is lie down.

    • Preston Chu

      A pillow is good as it represents nearly all high schoolers have experienced late nights before and most teenagers are usually tired out from everything throughout the day.

  • Preston Chu

    I believe a metal bar would represent me because i’m useful for a lot of things whether it be holding something up or being used as a tool or workout tool. I’m also persistent and don’t break very easily.

    • Ezra Quianzon

      Very creative preston! You must be a jack-of-all-trades type of person. We need a lot more people like you in this world.

      • Preston Chu

        Gee thanks fam

  • May N.

    An everyday item that represents me would be a mirror because it only shows what’s on the surface but hides what’s on the inside.

  • Ada Ouyang

    I think the everyday object that represents me is a piece of paper because I like to listen to and accept to ideas and like to express myself through drawing and writing, which can all be done on paper. Furthermore, I tend to be light-hearted and active, moving from place to place and daydreaming.

  • Jorden M

    I feel the every day object that represents me is the computer keyboard. I’m constantly giving input and I feel it represents my technical skills. As well as my ability to type quickly. Sadly I am also rigid, and a bit cold at times, similar to that of a keyboard.

  • Jonah Chapman

    If I had to decide what inanimate, man-made creations best describe me, I would choose a microphone. A microphone amplifies, it literally enhances words spoken by even the most soft-spoken. It has always been my will to be not only heard, but extravagent and distinct in what I do, both professionally and recreationally. However it is usually that kind of thinking that gets me into trouble.

    • It sounds like you and Erica (who also chose a microphone) might have a lot in common!

  • Guest

    An everyday object that represents me is shoes because im always on the move and i never get time to sit or do what i want. Basically I wake up in the morning to go to school, then internship, and then off to which ever sport i have and lastly i have work so i never get a chance to stop. Shoes over time wear out when overly used so it represents me because me being so active I often get tired and cant move on.

  • ArtieH

    if i could be any household object i would be a door. because it can let people in and keep unwanted people out.
    A door that is open allows the flow of opprotunity , but a closed door is the stopping point for negitivity and unwanted indeviduals.

  • Kyle Sabourin

    I think the object that represents me is a pair of shoes. Everyone knows me for my running and all I do is run. Running helps me through my everyday life and allows me to relieve stress.

  • Nicolas I.

    I feel that the object that best represents me is the pen. The pen is capable of writing anything, and on nearly any surface. This represents my versatility and creativity.

  • Chase Z

    The everyday object that represents me is a tissue because it my look weak but it can contain the strongest force. It also can support you when you are sick or when you need to refresh.

  • Aaron Campbell

    An everyday object that represents me is shoes because im always on the move and i never get time to sit or do what i want. Basically I wake up in the morning to go to school, then internship, and then off to which ever sport i have and lastly i have work so i never get a chance to stop. Shoes over time wear out when overly used so it represents me because me being so active I often get tired and cant move on.

    • Aaron, are these your shoes? If so, they definitely convey how active and busy you are! Great choice of image here.

  • Jorell G.

    An everyday object that represents me is my car. It is what I pour myself into. I can personalize it with what I like to represent me. I think it represents me because wherever it may be I can drive there. As long as I keep up on maintenance, I can keep driving on and on forever.

  • Brandon C

    I thin the object tht represents me is a flag. I blow through life and go along with anything that happens. This is wht i believe a flag represents me

    • MichaelT

      Brandon can you explain better with more depth im trying to connect.

    • Aaron Campbell

      what website did you get this from

    • Brandon,

      Your comment reminds me of this painting by Julie Mehretu (, but so many artists have used flags in their worj!

      What other purposes do flags have? So much significance! I wonder how that fits in with you.

  • John B B1

    An everyday item that represents me is a heart because I’m allways someone who cares and watches out for people, but without other components its useless For example, when I see someone I know who is under the weather, I make sure there allright and back them up whereever they need it, but when I can’t do it alone I have my family and friends to help me.

  • Rean S.

    An everyday object that best represents me are electronics (Computers, TVs, Cameras, etc). Electronics or technology in a whole provides us information around the world and in a way unites us in knowing each other. For me personally, electronics represent my curious and imaginative side because I always wonder how they work and the benefits they provide for us.

  • MichaelT

    an everyday object that represents me would be a television because it would represent how fun and creative I am along with the fact that I can be entertaining. I always seem to help people with whatever is on their mind and I can always brighten a stressful day. Also a television shows you what else is going on in the world to keep you up to date

  • Kevin S

    An everyday item that represents me would be my car because it shows a personality. You are able to customize your car and make any changes that you want.

  • Devin

    i think a phone would be mine because i like change my appearance often. i never like to look the same twice. But at the same time i help people out with their daily lives. Sometimes im mistreated, abused, and taken for granted but im strong at the same time.

  • Colin W

    A computer would be my symbol because, like me, they can work, has personality, and likes an internet connection.

  • SamN

    I would be a controller, i help you interact with more than one life trying to assit you social interactions, i want to help you broden yoru social spectrum. I can also be very manipulative without you knowing until i want you to know.

  • Spencer Gradel

    I think that I am like a lockbox. Very strong, can take a lot of damage but not break, and is very good at keeping things inside safe.

  • Aaron

    An everyday object I would be, would be the guitar. Because it symbolize expression and voice. I express myself many times to be heard to others. Also the guitar can be played differently to reflect the mood. This reflects me because i can be very emotional at times and can change my emotions like a guitar playing different genres.

  • Jon Hanauer

    I would be a Rubik’s cube and not those cheap ones where you can rip off the stickers. I am complex, frustrating, and always changing my appearance. Like a Rubik’s cube, I look extraordinary and unique when solved. However, I am yet to be solved.

  • Nick N

    An object that represents me would be a dry erase board, because Nothing about me is set in stone, and I don’t change others views most if sensible can change mine.

  • Justin R.

    I feel as though an ordinary object that represents me is a piece of trash. Though I may not be useful or desirable by many, maybe even most, there are a few that may see my potential and appraise my worth beyond what is immediately visible. I may not have a specific purpose, but, like a piece of discarded junk, that makes me even more versatile, my uses being only limited by the creativity of those who utilize my readiness to be useful.

  • Pradhumna Poudel

    I think emoji represents me because sometime I am sad and sometime I can happy, depends upon my day.

  • Davis T

    An everyday object that represents me would be a shoe. I can personalize it however I want and goes through a lot of adventures.

  • Brady Snyder

    I would be represented by my Remington 870 shotgun. I protect and defend what and who needs to be defended. I provide for those who need to be provided for. I also offend those who are ignorant and don’t know what they are talking about.

    • Captain E

      guns kill people

      • Brady Snyder

        You’re one of the ignorant people I offend.

  • Shaquan Wynn

    An object that best represents me is a rock. On the outside you can come up with your own perceptions of it. By the way it looks or color. You don’t know what really is on the inside till you open it up and find out the true content is.

  • Angel

    An everyday item that represents me is a blank sheet a paper , becasue i dont say or show much of how i feel and whats on my mind but on the other side i have so much to say

  • Zach H

    An everyday object that represents me would be a note book, because I can learn and store a lot of information.

  • Colton Monds

    I think that a compound bow represents me the best. I am calm and collective under pressure as is a bow drawn back and then when the trigger is pulled on the release. A fluid motion flings a smooth consistent energy in form of an arrow with a tip as sharp as a needle. I am smooth and easy going until otherwise is needed.

  • troy

    I believe represent a tire. I take on a lot of weight and I am either am stationary or allows moving. I take on potholes and debris. Most of the time i can take it but there can be a time where it punctures me and I lose air.

  • Antonio E.

    I would want to be a mannequin. You never know what a mannequin is thinking, yet a mannequin can show so many emotions if its depicted correctly.

  • Ashlye H

    I would compaire myself to a mood ring. i tend to have many differnt moods through the day based upon who i am talking to and what is brought up to me.

  • Brooklyn Carroll

    If I were an object, I would be a mail truck. This is becuase mail truck’s have an open door on one side and closed wall on the other. That mirrors my personality because sometimes I can be reserved, but on the other side of my personality, I am very outgoing. This could also represtent me because I like to stay organized and mail trucks have to follow a certain pattern and route.

  • Samantha D.

    I feel like I most relate to a simple lightbulb. I have a complicated conflicted personality where everything is opposite. There are times where I feel bright, everything is pastel, and I am probably the happiest thing anyone would ever see. Other times I am dark, I wear all black, and I am quiet and just sitting inside my own head. The lightbulb is a reflection of my light/dark personality and it fits me perfectly.

  • Daren Hodges

    Guy Camileon would represent me the most, because i can blend in and mix with many diverse environments.

  • Brittany E

    The ordinary object that represents me is a Graduation cap. I say this because having a graduation cap reminds of success and Being successful is what i intend to be in life.

  • Christina V.

    An object that best represents me is the Cross charm on my necklace. I am always religious and put Jesus and God before me. I am always wondering how Jesus would handle a situation and my religion always keeps me pointing north.

  • Dionte Dixon

    The object I feel I represent is a box because, in a way I like to package information first before I truly speak how I feel in a situation. The fact is that I need to know all of what people are talking about before I make a decision or state my opinion.

  • Wendell R

    I think a object that best describes me are the What the KD 6, because they are very versatile. The have a lot of meaning to them and they represent many things. The shoes can be worn with anything just like I can adapt to any situation.

  • Jonny Sleiman

    If i was to be represented by an object I would be a skateboard. Skateboarding is a symbol of freedom and I have always been a very free spirited person.

  • Jason T

    An ordinary object that would represent me would be a plastic bag. I like to move with the flow as long as it is good for me and I am harmful to the environment with all the waste I produce. However, I carry a lot of weight everyday whether it be for me or my family even if it stretches me out.

    • I love your thinking about the different significant aspects of plastic bags Jason!

      Your comments remind me of the work by local Bay Area artist Chris Thorson, where she made replicas of plastic shopping bags out of silk, beeswax, resin, and natural dyes:

    • I love your thinking about the different significant aspects of plastic bags Jason!

      Your comments remind me of the work by local Bay Area artist Chris Thorson, where she made replicas of plastic shopping bags out of silk, beeswax, resin, and natural dyes:

  • Antonio E.

    I could also be compared to a stop light. It seems so unnecessary and we take it for granted; nevertheless, a stop light “knows its limits”

  • Cynthia Griffin

    My object would be a tv. A televison show can be really exciting or really boring

  • Jake Dictado

    A hoodie, I prefer not to stick out, blend in, and avoid confrontation. There is no better way to blend in than by keeping other’s eyes off of you. By keeping other’s eyes off of you, you can avoid confrontation all together.

  • Brynn R.

    I would say that combat boots are what best represent me. I’ve chosen combat boot for a plethora of reasons, such as:
    -They are what I wear about 99.9% of the time so they obviously have a “special place in my hear” yadayada..
    -They (shoes in general really) are what protect you the most with you everyday attire. They protect your feet from natural harms from something as small as stubbing your toe or something as big as protecting your feet from a snake bite or something crazy like that.
    -Also I plan to join the military, more specifically the Marine Corps, and I feel that its one of the more important parts of the uniform because, like I said before, they protect you. When you can take any article of clothing off you keep your boots on. They resist the wear and tear or rocky terrain, muddy waters, and miles upon miles of walking/running.

  • Malik S.

    An everyday object that would represent me is a balled up piece of paper: made of mess ups, but can soars through the sky on the way to the trash can.

  • Michael W

    I would be represented by Art because art in general inspires me to continue my creativity and explore the meaning of life through the look and feel of other people’s arts.

    • Michael, is this an artwork you made? How cool, and thanks for sharing!

  • amy nguyen

    Mirror . Because when you look at in you will not she myself in other side but you can see yourself. I am very different in different places and situation.

  • Benjamin Schmidt

    A refrigerator would best represent me because I am always hungry. Fridges are always filled with food. Also I am always positive and outgoing showing my accomplishments. like a fridge with positive things posted onto it. I’m expensive, but needed and Im cold on the inside.

  • Humphrey O.

    What best represents me is a fishing pole. It best represents me becasue I am flexible under pressure, but i am also strong and sturdy and can get the job done.

  • Kayla Fisher

    If i could be represented by an object, it would be a parrot. i am very talkative just like the bird. the parrot has bright colors which is a representation of my personality, happy and bright. (:

  • Ashley Gooden

    The object I chose to represent me is a penny because some people think they’re worthless but when added up its worth something more. Each penny stands for a positive quality that i potray so when you put it together that is what makes me, me 🙂

  • Brianna M.

    I would compare myself to a geode, they look like a normal rock on the outside. However, on the inside its full of possibilities and color. I show a neutral outside that everyone sees, but on the inside I’m full of personality and creativity.

    • dan.b

      nice rock

    • Beautiful photo and I love your creative thinking about the surface level vs. interior of the geode and how it might relate to your personality.

  • Silver Storm

    The object that represents me is a book. Tough on the outside but once you get to know me and look past my cover, I’m a really caring person, but I can still cut someone if you mistreat me

  • Princess K.

    My object is a diamond because I’m valuable

  • Princess K.

    my object is a diamond because I’m valuable

  • iray hygs liana

    an object that represents me better is a thread.a thread is flexible,and to be put in a needle pin you need to put in much concentration. i am also flexible but i work better when i am under a great pressure and can do my job well done.


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Founded in 1935, SFMOMA was the first museum on the West Coast devoted to modern and contemporary art. From the outset, the museum has championed the most innovative and challenging art of its time, and we continue to exhibit and collect work by both modern masters and younger, less-established artists. By embracing the challenge of the new and unexpected, we hope to encourage fresh ways of seeing, thinking, and engaging with the world.

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