Together, let's collect and examine materials from a favorite place in nature. Visit a natural area near your home and look around at what natural materials are available there. Without picking any living plants, collect about 10–20 natural materials from one area. Then give this creative project a try.
We begin by using the Elements of Art, the visual building blocks of art making, to arrange our items. Then, using the Principles of Design, we consider different types of designs as ways of giving our art meaning. We continue to rearrange our natural materials until we reach a message we want to communicate about our environment. We can record and share our message through photography, writing, and sketching before returning our materials to the natural place where they were found.
We recommend that, due to COVID-19 precautions, gloves be used to collect the materials. Leave the materials outdoors in the sun for 1–3 days before doing the project.
Andy Goldsworthy (b. 1956) grew up on a farm in northern England. As a child he became fascinated with nature. He went to art school but felt confined inside the studio and a need to be outside observing the natural world. Goldsworthy was influenced by the Land Art movement in the 1970s, and he began to create sculptures that reflect nature’s cycles, using natural materials in their original location. Often, his works are changeable, unpredictable, and impermanent. He examines the place where he is making the work, looks at the shapes and textures of the natural elements, and challenges the ideas of balance, pattern, and movement as he builds his sculptures.
Drawn Stone (2005) was created as a commission for the entry space of the new de Young building. Goldworthy used stone from his home in Yorkshire, England, to create an entryway with large stones that people could sit and climb on. The crack, which draws visitors in to the entrance, refers to the impermanence of this strong material from the earth. The crack also represents a faultline and acts as a gentle reminder of the earthquakes in San Francisco’s past and of what may happen in the future. The artwork challenges our perceptions of what is art and what is nature and highlights the power of nature to persist.