Assemblage Art

Combine various materials together to explore the concept of assemblage art.

Big Idea: Recycled materials can be used to create art.


  • Used cardboard boxes (lids are good too)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers (for names and to decorate)
  • Scraps of sanded wood (check with local lumber yards, hardware stores or parents)
  • Metal scraps (make sure these are not sharp)
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Other recycled materials, like buttons, lids, fabric, etc.
  • Photographs of Louise Nevelson work (search on internet)
Illinois Learning Standards:
4.A Listen effectively in formal and informal situations.
9.A Demonstrate and apply geometric concepts involving points, lines, planes and space.
25.A Understand the sensory elements, organizational principle and expressive qualities of the arts.
25.B Understand the similarities, distinctions and connections in and among the arts.
26.A Understand processes, traditional tools and modern technologies used in the arts.
26.B Apply skills and knowledge necessary to create and perform in one or more of the arts.
31.A Develop a positive self-concept.
Assemblage: a group of things gathered or collected; an assembly; collection.
Collage: a technique of composing a work of art by pasting on a single surface various materials.
Negative space: empty space, space around an object or form; also called white space.
Recycle: to extract useful materials from garbage or waste.
Recyclable: fit for or capable of being recycled

Activity Directions:

Describe assemblage to children and other definitions. Show images of Louise Nevelson art work. Louise Nevelson is known for creating beautiful, huge box sculptures. Her father owned a lumber yard when she was a child and she loved to collect and use scraps of wood to decorate boxes, she called them her “secret treasures”. As an adult she continued to collect different items and began arranging them into very large structures- this is how she created her art.

  1. Compare and discuss what kinds of items or shapes, negative space can be seen in her art work.
  2. Have children choose a few items to start with and arrange them in their box/ box lid.
  3. Glue items into the box/ box lid.
  4. Children can continue to place additional items in box till they are finished.
  5. Allow children to share their box, take dictations or older children can write something about their box.

Investigation Questions:

Q. Can you tell me about your assemblage?
Q. What is a recyclable?
A. A recyclable is something that can be reused to make art work. For example, newspapers, bottles, cardboard boxes.
Q. What type of recyclables did you use in your art work?
Q. Can you show me the negative spaces you have created in your box?
Q. What kinds of items do you like to collect?

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