Introduction to Assemblage through the Sculptures of Louise Nevelson  
Meets the learning standards for grades 4-5 (can be adapted)  
Media Type:  Assemblage
Subject Integration: Fine Arts, English Language Arts, Science, Math

Formal Lesson Plan and TEKS information

Materials: writing materials and paper, cardboard of varying shapes and thicknesses, school glue, masking tape, scissors, toothpicks, paint/markers

Image Credit

This lesson provides 10 new vocabulary words: 

  • Monochromatic
  • Form
  • Structure
  • Relief Sculpture
  • Assemblage
  • Found Object
  • Recycle
  • Flange
  • Slot
  • Peg 

American sculptor, Louise Nevelson called herself “the original recycler.” Give examples of times have you have used recycled materials in artwork. What were some of the reasons you chose to use recycled materials in your art?

Activity 1

Read the following article about Louise Nevelson and look for new, unfamiliar words (e.g. negation, aristocratic, monochromatic, debris). Explore vocabulary through context clues and by decoding words using advanced knowledge of syllable division patterns, prefixes, and suffixes.

Read the article again, this time looking for examples of imagery, analogy, figurative language, simile, and metaphor.

Activity 2

Select a photograph of one of Louise Nevelson’s assemblages for the following exercise:

Write a poem or short essay about your selected artwork using imagery, analogy, figurative language, simile, or metaphor and making observations about form, geometry, texture, area, and space.

Share and Discuss!

Activity 3

There are many challenges when working with found objects to create art. One of the biggest challenges is joining the materials together in a strong and stable way. This is especially evident when creating relief sculptures because the weight of an unsupported object makes it prone to pulling away from the structure and falling apart. Watch this brief tutorial to learn 5 simple methods for creating stronger adhesive bonds.

We will be recycling cardboard to build a monochromatic, relief sculpture.  Be sure to incorportate geometry, area, space, and mass in your design. We can always consider the artistic form in our problem solving.

Choose or create two identical size/shape pieces of cardboard to use as the base for building the assemblage. Use the face-to-face method for bonding the pieces together, and then use masking tape around the outer edge as a secondary bonding method. (the double thickness of the base will make the pegs more effective later.)


Utilize all 5 connecting techniques from the video when constructing your structure (face-to-face, foot/tab, flange, slot, peg).

Remember use secondary bonding methods for each piece.

While you are working, think about what made Louise Nevelson’s artwork interesting, despite being monochromatic. Keep this in mind while working on your composition.

Once all assemblage is complete, paint your relief sculpture a single color. (Markers may be used, but paint will be much easier.)

Share… Reflect! Use the new vocabulary terms to talk about the process.


Review of Vocabulary for this Lesson:

Monochromatic – Containing or using only one color.

Form – The visible shape or configuration of something.

Structure – The arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of something complex.

Relief Sculpture – A wall-mounted sculpture in which the three-dimensional elements are raised from a flat base.

Assemblage – A work of art made by grouping found or unrelated objects.

Found Object – An object – often utilitarian, manufactured, or naturally occurring – that was not originally designed for an artistic purpose, but has been repurposed in an artistic context.

Recycle – “Convert (waste) into reusable material” or to “Use again”

Flange – A protruded ridge, lip or rim, either external or internal, that serves to increase strength; for easy attachment/transfer of contact force with another object

Slot – A narrow, elongated depression, groove, notch, slit, or aperture, especially a narrow opening for receiving or admitting something, as a coin or a letter.

Peg – A short cylindrical piece of wood, metal, or plastic, typically tapered at one end, that is used for holding things together, hanging things on, or marking a position.