Art-Making Activity: Louise Nevelson Assemblage

In celebration of Earth Day, upcycle your recyclables with this project inspired by Louise Nevelson.


Sculptor Louise Nevelson is known for creating art from discarded objects. She playfully called herself “the original recycler.” Her monumental sculptures fit together like puzzle pieces and feature wood, cardboard, plastic and formica. Nevelson often painted her assemblages, works of art made by grouping found objects, in a single color. She was especially fond of black paint because it represented “totality, peace, and greatness.”

Louise Nevelson (American, b. Ukraine 1899 – 1988, Untitled, 1973, Lithograph, 8 15/16 x 11 15/16 in. Gift of Robert Rauschenberg, 73.413.17


  • Cardboard boxes and tubes
  • Scissors
  • Construction paper and recycled magazines or wrapping paper
  • Assorted recycled objects such as puzzle pieces, bottle tops, corks, egg cartons, keys, or other found objects from the home.
  • Masking or painter’s tape
  • Liquid craft glue OR Hot glue gun with glue
  • Optional: Paint and paintbrush


1 – Cut or tear a piece of cardboard from a box to use as your base. Aim for the size of letter printer paper or larger.

2 – Use some more of that box to cut and tear cardboard into a variety of sizes and shapes. You can also remove part of the smooth cardboard to reveal the bumpy middle.

3 – Select some colored paper from the construction and magazine pages. Cut or tear these into a few different shapes.

4 – Plan your assemblage. Place pieces of cardboard and paper on top of the largest piece of cardboard. You may also want to add cut pieces of cardboard tubes.

5 – Add your found objects. Don’t glue anything down yet! Take time to experiment with your design! You can use the tape in your planning process.

6 – Use liquid glue to attach the pieces of cardboard, papers and objects. Be generous with the glue for heavier items and allow time for the glue to dry.

7 – OPTIONAL: When the glue is dry, you can paint your assemblage in a single color with tempera or acrylic paint to create a monochrome effect.