top of page
snow chair
snow chair2
art gallery
construction toy

Public Art as Public Good: Selected Works

A public good is a good that is non-excludable and non-rivalrous. This means that no one can be excluded from using it, and consumption by one individual does not reduce the amount of value available for others. But the ability to create public goods — and the perception of abundance over scarcity more generally — is constrained by the perceived availability of resources and the context in which those resources are situated. All value is given in these design principles. In the designs selected here, these principles are reduced to a set of instructions.


Snow Chair (2020)

In scarcity find abundance.

The first thing you do to make a snow chair is to find a large pile of snow. Then just sit in it. Plop down into it, if you prefer. Let it conform to the shape of your bottom, which forms the seat of the chair. Now, centering this seat, carve out the snow around it in a circular manner, giving form to the desired shape of your chair. In a few seconds, you have a comfortable chair.

Snow after a big snowstorm can be a hindrance at best and a danger at worst. There are costs associated with removing it. But if the abundance of the snow is not seen as a burden, but as an opportunity, creative possibilities emerge. When the material is given a new form, and thereby a new purpose, its use value increases from a liability to an asset. Easily and quickly, everyone can have their own chair… at least until the weather changes and the snow melts.


Port-A-Potty Art Gallery (2024)

Reframe the game.

There is a long and established tradition of bathrooms as galleries for art. You can find graffiti in just about any bathroom, ranging in quality and content from the most profound to the most profane (probably a lot more of the latter). Art galleries typically host the most elevated objects our culture can offer. They are the most rarefied spaces. But even garbage in an abject space such as a Port-A-Potty can, on occasion, produce an aesthetic experience. Placing art in a new context changes the meaning of both the place it is installed, and the art itself.

Port-A-Potty Art Galleries are easy to make. Take art that you find in the trash, or work you made on your own, and fashion a hook from a hanger. Make the hanger straight, then bend it in half. With pliers if you have them, take the bent end, and bend it again. Bend the other ends, forming hooks to attach through the vents. This makes it unnecessary to deface the Port-A-Potty in any way when installing your art. Installing art in this space changes the meaning and purpose of the place, as it calls attention to the Port-A-Potty as the most elemental of architectural elements. It is an implicit call for the space to take on an expanded, exalted function, beyond the call of nature, as a call for culture.


Coffeee Shop Construction Toy (2012)

Play is the Philosopher’s Stone.

Coffee shops are great places to explore your creativity and come up with new ideas. A little caffeine, some time to play, and the materials at hand can go a long way. With a bit of imagination you can use this construction method to build many other kinds of forms, and this basic component can be combined with other elements to create larger and more impressive pieces.

After you order your latte or espresso, grab a handful of straws and stirring sticks. Use the straws to connect the sticks to each other to create structures with your new construction toy. Complete instructions can be found here.

bottom of page