John Houck, Petals and Interleaves, 2016. Archival pigment print, 27 × 32 inches (68.6 × 81.3 cm). Promised gift of Abigail Ross Goodman and Mark Goodman. Courtesy the artist and On Stellar Rays. © John Houck
This activity is recommended for children ages 5 and up, and is a great activity to work on as a family.
By way of riddles and rhymes, explore our current moment and reimagine the future with your family! During this activity, you’ll collect household objects and build a temporary family sculpture to capture and reflect on for years to come.
- Household objects
- Flat surface to place household objects on
- Smartphone or digital camera to photograph final artwork
Work together to try and solve these riddles:
1. What is Black and White and Read all over?
A. An artwork
B. A family treasure
2. What is always in front of you, but can’t be seen?
A. At-home recycling machine
B. Time-travel portals
C. The Future
3. It belongs to you, but other people use it more than you do. What is it?
B. Your name
4. What is so fragile that saying its name breaks it?
D. Crystal Lake
Reveal answers + move on to next steps!
- D. Newspaper
- C. The Future
- B. Your name
- C. Silence
Compare your answers with the hidden correct answers. How did you do?
Explore your home or surroundings to find objects that represent each riddle answer.
Discuss the significance of each object. Here are some questions to explore while searching:
A newspaper tells us what’s going on in the world. What object(s) around you represent what’s happening in our world? A book, a magazine, a painting?
What does the future look like to you? What objects around you represent the future you want to see? A calendar, a clock, flower seeds, a full cup of water?
What objects represent your identity? A school picture, something you made that you’re proud of, a uniform with your name on it?
What do you do to relax or feel peaceful? What objects can represent this feeling? A book, a pillow, a favorite stuffed animal?
Once you have collected all your objects, arrange them in an interesting way. Try stacking them in a tower, or overlapping objects to hide secrets or show their importance. What other interesting ways can you showcase your objects? This action is called making an assemblage, which is how some contemporary artists create sculptures today.
Photograph your work!
Photograph your assemblage to keep and reflect on in the future. Post it online to share with your friends, family, and community. Once you have collected all your objects, arrange them in an interesting way. Try stacking them in a tower, or overlapping objects to hide secrets or show their importance. What other interesting ways can you showcase your objects? This action is called making an assemblage, which is how some contemporary artists create sculptures today.
- Find a flat, blank backdrop to place your arrangement in front of.
- Use natural light or spotlights. Set up your light source behind you.
- If using your phone, turn OFF the flash. Shoot in “auto.”
- Photograph your assemblage from a straightforward perspective, then try photographing from above or below.
- Save your original photo and play around with editing applications to achieve your desired results.
Gerald L. Leavell II, M.F.A. is a community artist and arts educator based in Dallas, TX and Baltimore, MD. His practice is interdisciplinary in approach and often conceptual by nature. As a studio artist, Leavell mostly enjoys collage and assemblage—experimenting with materials, objects, and mediums to create…a “something.”