Do something great written in white neon lights on a black background.

One of the best ways to put theory into practice is to make stuff!

Most of the major assignments for the course involve you creating some sort of product or tangible form that reflects the ideas and principles discussed in our readings and units.

You do not have to be skilled as an artist or graphic designer to do well on any of these assignments, so don’t be intimidated in any way. You just have to be willing to engage with the material and the work.

Description and Rationale

As you will discover from the readings, metaphors are a regular part of the way we communicate. One of the best ways to improve your recognition and use of metaphors is to record the ones you hear, note how they were used, and try to use them yourself. Another good method is to take a figure of speech and turn it into a visualized statement. For this assignment, you will do both.

There are three (3) parts to this assignment:

  1. Metaphor Log
    • For this part of the assignment, you will simply make a running log of all the metaphors you hear over the span of a week. You are encouraged to keep something that you can take notes on at all times (cell phone, notebook, etc.) Each time you hear a metaphor used, jot down the following: who said it, in what context (lyrics in a song, meeting at work, on TV, in a conversation), and what the metaphor was meant to represent. After a week’s time, take your notes and compile them into a well-designed and organized list. You should have at least 10 metaphors listed.
    • In a well-designed and organized form, you should list at least 10 metaphors that you have heard over the span of a week. Your document should detail: the metaphor, who said it, in what context (lyrics in a song, meeting at work, on TV, in a conversation), and what the metaphor was meant to represent.
    • You can submit the assignment up to two times (2x) in case something goes wrong during submission.
    • This assignment will be worth 75 points.
  2. Figure of Speech Poster
    • After completing the readings, you should have a good idea of the different types of figures of speech out there (metaphors are only one kind of figure of speech). Following the case study in Ehses’ article, create a poster advertising a book, play, television show, or film. The key is that you use a specific figure of speech and represent it visually.
    • You can upload your work as a PDF, JPEG, or PNG file.
    • You can submit the assignment up to two times (2x) in case something goes wrong during submission.
    • This assignment will be worth 150 points.
  3. Memo
    • After creating your poster, write a short (less than 75 words) paragraph that describes the figure of speech you used for your poster, what it is intended to represent, and what you feel it communicates about the book, play, tv show, or film you are advertising.
    • In a short (less than 75 words) paragraph, describe the figure of speech you used for your poster, what it is intended to represent, and what you feel it communicates about the book, play, tv show, or film you are advertising
    • You can submit the assignment up to two times (2x) in case something goes wrong during submission.
    • This assignment is worth 25 points.

Grading Standard

Your metaphor log will simply be assessed on completeness and presentation. Your poster and memo will be assessed on the accurate use of a figure of speech to portray some important element of the work you are advertising. Exceptional design or artistic skills for the poster are not required, but it should be evident, as always, that you put time and thought into the assignment.

Description and Rationale

This assignment is the culmination of the semester’s work.

You will create a virtual museum exhibit similar to the one we looked at about the year 1968 at the National Portrait Gallery, your exhibit will be about the Year 2020.

The National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit “One Year: 1968, An American Odyssey” was broken down into the following subject areas or themes:

  • Vietnam War
  • Civil Rights
  • Culture/Counterculture
  • Film and TV
  • Sports
  • Politics
  • Apollo 8

You will need to choose a title and subtitle for your virtual museum, such as: “The Year Everything Changed: 2020” or you might prefer rearranging that sort of title as “2020: When Everything Changed” (this isn’t very good, but I just wanted to create an example that you could easily improve upon).

For your exhibit on the year 2020, think about what visuals captured or highlighted the year 2020. (If you want, you can use anything relevant from class.)

You will need to collect 2-3 visuals for each subject area/theme. At least one (1) of those visuals should be a photograph. (If you’d like, all 3 could be photographs.) Other visuals could be posters, memes, artwork, typography, etc. The visuals for this exhibit do not have to be creative commons or copyright free. In fact, you probably will want to use some famous media visuals from this year. Just be sure that the caption, as always, identifies the source.

For each visual, write a caption containing:

  • Title
  • Source

Your exhibit will have 5 themes or “rooms”:

  • COVID-19
  • Sports
  • Politics
  • Civil Rights
  • A theme of your choosing

You need to create descriptive text for each room (theme) explaining the theme and what and why your visuals illustrate and illuminate this important theme of 2020.

You will also need some introductory text for an overview of your virtual museum exhibit talking about 2020.

For example, here are two different introductory overviews for “One Year: 1968, An American Odyssey”:

  • Nineteen sixty-eight was a year to remember months before it ever reached a climactic ending. Fifty years later we are still remembering the succession of events that defined an era and shaped the nation. The Portrait Gallery’s … exhibition, “One Year, 1968: An American Odyssey” explores this tumultuous year through the lives of some thirty disparate newsmakers. The images herein are samples from the show and focus on such major themes as the war in Vietnam, civil rights and racial unrest, pop culture, sports, politics, and the Apollo 8 lunar mission.
  • As part of a series of installations celebrating its golden anniversary, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will present “One Year: 1968, An American Odyssey,” a one-room exhibition that looks back at an extraordinarily important and memorable time in American history. The show relies on some thirty portraits to tell the story of 1968, the year when the Vietnam War reached a turning point, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, and television sets displayed everything from the Olympic Games to the first manned orbit of the moon. Memorably, it was also the year that the Portrait Gallery first opened its doors. The subjects featured in the exhibition continue to resonate in our collective memory. Representations of Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon will share the walls with portraits of cultural figures such as Peggy Fleming, Arthur Ashe, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Depictions of other significant personalities, notably the Apollo 8 astronauts, will round out the exhibition.

Your exhibit will take the form of a PowerPoint presentation. I will put up a few different templates that would work well for this. You can, if you’d like, use your own template or style.

These will be shared at the end of the semester with the class so that we can all visit each other’s exhibitions.

Templates for Your Exhibit

Here is a PowerPoint template and Google Slides template that you can use for your virtual museum exhibition, but you can create your own design if you prefer. But even with the templates, you may need to add one or two slides for the introductory overview of your exhibition, or you may need to delete extra or particular slides that you feel don’t apply. Make any changes to the templates that you would like to.

You can, of course, use any other template you find that you feel meets your needs, or create something from scratch. But you will need to make sure that your exhibit is accessible to your audience (us).

Each of these templates has a slide for the Curator: YOU! Upload your photo or avatar in the image area. Be sure to include a statement or short bio about yourself in the curator slide.

PowerPoint Template for Your Exhibit

With this template, you have some choices for how to present the introductory overview of your exhibition:

  • You can either insert a slide or two at the beginning for your text about the exhibit, or
  • You can use one or more of these slides for your overview: the BACK WALL ARTIFACT slide, the ARTIFACT 22 slide, or the ARTIFACT 23 slide. You will need to make some changes to the slide to accommodate your text.

David Lee’s Virtual Museum Google Slides Template

To use this template, you will need to copy or download this template and save it to your Google Drive or computer.

This template gives you 3 different title pages you can choose from for the facade of your museum building. Once you pick the title page you like, delete the other two. If you feel comfortable with the technology, you can change the view on the title page to a completely different museum building that you find an image for.

With this template you will have to insert a slide or two for your introduction/overview of your exhibit.

Here’s a link to a video by David Lee on using an earlier version of his template: Virtual Museums with Google Slides. (Some little things have changed, but most of the basics should be similar, so if some of the items or procedures are a little different in the video, don’t be concerned.)

Posting and Presenting Your Exhibit

Once you have completed your virtual museum exhibition, you should be ready to present it.

  1. Post your exhibit to our Padlet Virtual Museum page.
    • You can upload the file, or you can put up a link to the file on the Padlet Virtual Museum page as long as you have made the link to your file available to all (you would have to have it saved to your Google Drive, Dropbox, your blog, or some other online site with the appropriate settings for access to the file).
    • To post to the page, click on the big pinkish circle at the bottom on the right-hand side. That will open up a box for you to upload your file or place your link.
  2. Sign up for a day and time to present your exhibit. Be prepared to talk about your theme and the visuals you chose.
    • To pick a day and time, go to the Virtual Museum Presentations wiki, click in and then follow the directions to add your name to the most convenient day and time for you. (To reserve a time, you click on the “Edit Wiki Content” button on the right side near the top of the wiki table, type in your name in the appropriate box, and submit.) If someone else’s name is there, just add yours under the other name(s). We can accommodate up to 5 presentations in a given hour. If none of the days and times listed fits into your schedule, contact me.
  3. Feel free to explore your classmates’ exhibits on the Padlet page and rate the ones you like.

Description and Rationale

When dealing with visual material, it is important to provide people who are blind or visually impaired with the means to appreciate or take advantage of the information and aesthetic experience contained by and in that visual material. For these reasons it is often desirable to be able to describe visual material that would otherwise be inaccessible to those who have visual difficulties.

If the visual material isn’t central to the experience or information, a simple caption or alt-text description usually suffices. But if the visual is imparts information or is an essential part of an artistic, educational, or news experience, a more comprehensive description is warranted. That is when an visual or image description is used. Sometimes live, sometimes recorded, visual descriptions are used in places such as museums and movie theaters, and during live performances and television programs.

This assignment gives you the chance to try to create an image description of two (2) specific visual objects using a document developed by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (located in Manhattan) to help guide you as you try to write a long description of:

  1. One of Charles Moore’s Birmingham Civil Rights photos
  2. One painting from the Whitney Museum’s current exhibition “Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925-1945.” Click on the eight categories shown here to find a picture that you would like to describe. If you have time, you should explore the exhibition website in general.

Once you choose your images, keeping these three points in mind as you prepare your description:

  • What is important about the image?
  • What word choice best conveys the visual elements?
  • How can we use language to best reflect the impression / intentions of the image?

You will need to carefully read over their general advice and the model examples in the Cooper Hewitt Guidelines for Image Description

Be sure to include a link to the work you chose or embed the picture with your description.

Description and Rationale

This assignment, once again, encourages you to apply theory to practice. After having read about colors, shapes, and abstract drawings (among other things) and their relationship to emotion and story, you now have the chance to bring out a reader’s emotion with your own visual storytelling.


There are two (2) parts to this assignment:

  1. You will re-create a well-known children’s story or fable by creating a multiple-page book. You should apply the principles discussed in Molly Bang’s work, Picture This (which was assigned in Unit 2 – Part 1 “Metaphors, Language, and Symbolism of the Visual”) and/or Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. But your story must NOT use any words. You may hand-draw the pictures, use construction paper, or use imaging or drawing software, but you MUST keep the design to simple shapes, objects, and colors (no more than 5 colors). The book you create should be designed to captivate, inspire, and bring out the targeted emotional response without relying on words. Your book should tell a complete story, including a beginning, middle and end; contain no words (except in the title); and include least six pages, not including the cover. Here’s a direct link to Picture This.
  2. In a separate brief memo, you will need to highlight which of Molly Bang’s and/or Scott McCloud’s principles you applied and how it affects the emotion and storytelling of your book. Your memo should be written concisely, in list or table form.

Grading Standard

You can draw, cut out shapes, or use computer software. You do not have to be an accomplished artist to do this project; it only needs to be clear that you took the time to make the details right (just like you would fix grammar and punctuation in an essay).

You will be assessed on this assignment by demonstrating your understanding of the theory of visual communication expressed in our readings to this point, both in your final product and your brief memo description of it. You will also be assessed on following the assignment instructions listed above.

Submitting the Assignment

You can submit your children’s book (part 1 of the assignment) as a PDF, a PowerPoint, or as a series of graphics files if the easiest way for you to do the assignment is to take pictures of each page (though you should be able to upload each picture to PowerPoint or another program). If you want to send a link to your file(s) on Dropbox or other cloud storage, you can do so. The memo file (part 2 of the assignment) should be a regular file from a word processing program (e.g., MS Word or Pages) or a PDF file.