7th Grade – The Art of Assemblage with Louise Nevelson

7th Grade – The Art of Assemblage with Louise Nevelson

Description of the Unit –  

Students will explore the monochromatic, rhythmic and balanced found-art assemblages of Louise Nevelson, and create their own assemblages both individually and in small groups.

Relationship to Life:  According to the Triad Art Group’s page on Louise Nevelson,Louise Nevelson is one of America’s foremost artists. Nevelson’s sculpted wood assemblages transcended space and transformed the viewer’s perception of art. In her most iconic works, she utilized wooden objects that she gathered from urban debris piles to create her monumental installations. Nevelson carefully arranged the objects in order to (arrange) the debris within the new, narrative context of her wall sculptures. The stories embodied within her works resulted from her cumulative experiences – as a Jewish child relocated to America from Russia, as an artist training in New York City and Germany, and as a hard-working, successful woman. Her innovative sculptural environments and success within the male-dominated realm of the New York gallery system inspired many younger artists.” https://www.triadartgroup.com/nevelson.

Two assemblages by Louise Nevelson: Sky Cathedral (1958), and Dawn’s Wedding Chapel IV (1959-60)

Activity statement –  Students are often thrilled to create a sculpture, but become anxious to produce a representational image, and don’t often make choices based solely on the relationships between line, form, pattern and balance. Students will observe Nevelson’s use of these concepts in her own work. (Concepts will later be reinforced in modeling by teacher.) Through these observations and developing understanding, students will work individually and in small groups to create a found-art assemblage that involves pattern, shape, composition, focal point, symmetry/asymmetry, rhythm and balance.

Students should…


  • How Louise Nevelson used shape, pattern, rhythm and balance in her assemblages
  • The concepts of composition and focal point
  • That everyday objects can serve as improvised sculpting material known as “found art”
  • The term “assemblage” in art
  • The term “monochromatic”


  • How to organize found objects so as to emphasize pattern, balance and rhythm
  • How to recognize symmetry and asymmetry in a composition
  • How to recognize balance in a composition

Be able to:

  • Recognize the characteristics inherent in Louise Nevelson’s work
  • Define the terms “assemblage” and “monochromatic”
  • Define “rhythm” and “balance” in a work of art

Objectives –

Students will:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of ways to work with pattern, rhythm and balance
  • Use found objects to create an assemblage that has a focal point, and demonstrates either symmetry or asymmetry in its composition
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the term ‘assemblage’
  • Recognize Louise Nevelson and her work
  • Express their thinking and choice-making as they work with found objects

Resources and materials –

  •  Exemplars of Louise Nevelson’s work
  • As many, and varied, recycled objects as possible
  • Cardboard formats (small ones for individual pieces, and around 3’x3’ for groups)
  • Masking tape, hot glue and hot glue guns, staplers and other modes of adhesives
  • Spray paint in a variety of colors

Questions – Two or more questions are included in each section.  This component includes four sections or types of questions in the following order:

Topic questions

  • What’s going on in this sculpture?
  • What about it makes you say that?
  • What in your life does (this sculpture) remind you of?
  • What do you notice first about the sculpture?
  • Does this sculpture have soft edges or hard edges?
  • Can you describe the shape and/or texture of the sculpture?
  • Where does your eye go first? Why? Where does it move from there?

Association questions:

  • Why do you think Nevelson’s sculptures are monochromatic
  • What shapes could you pair to create a focal point?
  • How would you demonstrate asymmetry in your assemblage?

Evaluation –

Did students:

Understand how to create a focal point?

Did students use their understanding of composition, symmetry/asymmetry, rhythm and balance to create a dynamic piece?

Did students use their skills of perception to discuss with clarity what they observed of Nevelson’s and each other’s’ work?

Did students practice clear communication and negotiation in their small groups?


  • Group discussions
  • Oral and written responses to essential questions
  • Peer collaboration
  • One finished individual (or group) assemblage
This unpainted, untitled piece (1985) by Louise Nevelson inspired the assemblage below…
This 7th grader first created this unpainted piece in the style of Nevelson’s assemblage above
For this assemblage the student opted to find all white objects so as not to have to paint it, yet still be monochromatic
Another individual assemblage in gold by a 7th grade student
An individual assemblage in red by a 7th grade student
This is a group assemblage in silver by 7th grade students
Another group assemblage, also in silver, by 7th grade students

2 thoughts on “7th Grade – The Art of Assemblage with Louise Nevelson

  1. What a great lesson – makes me sorry that i left teaching 45 years ago. I can see that your students are getting so much out of their class experience and your teaching.

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