Simryn Gill: Becoming a Plant

Simryn Gill: Becoming a Plant

In 1999, spring resident artist Simryn Gill described the inspiration for her exhibition Vegetation as being derived from her desire “to be a plant in the American landscape” and her investigation of the complexities that surround what it means to be indigenous.

During her residency, Gill explored the West Texas landscape for native plants and transformed them into face-obscuring headdresses. Gill and her collaborators then wore the headdresses as they posed for photographs within the landscape.

In this activity, you will create a nature mask using materials you can find outside such as flowers, grass, or tree leaves! Be careful to avoid poison ivy.

Thick paper (poster board, card stock, and empty cereal boxes work best!)
Glue (we’re a fan of glue sticks.)
Handle or fastener (a dowel or wooden skewer to hold your mask in hand, OR ribbon or yarn to tie around your head.

Additional Materials
Hole punch


  1. GO OUTSIDE! Collect mask materials. Any organic material will work; however, thicker material will be easier to work with and wilt much slower.
  2. Create a base for your mask by drawing the outline of your mask onto your heavy paper and cutting it out. Measure two spaces for eyes and cut those out as well. You can download and print a mask template HERE.
  3. Attach your organic materials. Apply glue to one piece at a time, and begin placing them along the outer edge of the mask, creating a pattern as you work your way to the center. If you’re working with delicate materials such as flowers, allow the mask some time to dry before attaching these items.
  4. Create a handle by gluing a dowel to the backside of your mask, and add extra security with a piece of tape. If you prefer a hands-free mask, cut holes (or use a hole punch) on either end of your mask, and attach ribbon or yarn to each side, so that you can tie it behind your head.
  5. Share your mask on social media and tag us: @artpace, #ArtpaceAtHome, #MakeArtHappen

To read about Simryn Gill’s 1999 International Artist-in-Residence exhibition, Vegetation, and view the complete TEKS-aligned Becoming a Plant lesson plan and others, please visit our Educator Resources page.

Sample created by Artpace Education Director Ashley Mireles
Sample created by Artpace Communications Manager, Casie Lomeli.