Nevelson-Inspired Shoes With An Attitude
Medici Princess by Joseph Cornell
Art from recycled materials
Art has been created from cast-off materials since art has been in existence.
Certain artists are drawn to making something out of what others would consider junk — taking what most people would view as useless and arranging it in an artistic manner, or placing it with traditional materials or in a particular setting that elevates it from junk to art.
Examples of artists who did assemblages:
- John Angus Chamberlain used recycled automobile parts assembled.
- Ed Kienholz’s large-scale installations looked like stages.
- Joseph Cornell confined his assemblages to boxes.
All great innovations are built on rejections.
In this particular lesson plan, students will look closely at the work of Louise Nevelson.
Nevelson was known for her abstract sculptures made from cast-off pieces of wood, uniformly coated with black or white spray paint.
Students will create their own assemblages using an old shoe and items that they have collected.
Nevelson is credited with saying “I think all great innovations are built on rejections.”
Louise Nevelson: A bold woman who made bold choices
One of Nevelson's wall sculptures
Who was Louise Nevelson?
Louise Nevelson, (born in the Ukraine on September 23, 1899 and died in New York on April 17, 1988) was a sculptor known for her monumental, monochromatic, wooden wall pieces and outdoor sculptures.
- emerged in the art world when the Abstract Expressionist movement was dominant.
- utilized wooden objects that she gathered from urban debris piles to create her monumental installations.
- was greatly influenced by Marcel Duchamp's found object sculptures.
- usually created out of wood, her sculptures appear puzzle-like, with multiple intricately cut pieces placed into wall sculptures or independently standing pieces, often 3-D.
- unique feature of her work is that her figures are often painted in monochromatic black or white.
- carefully arranged the recycled objects in such a way as to create something new and historic, a new narrative with old materials, which embodied her experiences.
- purposefully selected wooden objects for their evocative potential to call to mind the forms of the city, nature, and the celestial bodies.
- sculptures paved the way for the dialogues of the Feminist art movement of the 1970's by breaking the taboo that only men's artwork could be large-scale.
- works initiated an era in which women's life history became a suitable subject matter for monumental artistic representation.
To have students:
- understand color value
- use of 3-d space within monochromatic fields
- analyze relationships of works of art to one another in terms of history, aesthetics, and culture, justifying conclusions made in the analysis and using such conclusions to inform their own art making
- play with the shape and meaning of everyday objects to create sculptures
- identify intentions of those creating artworks
- create an assemblage, a number of pieces fitted together, a work of art consisting of miscellaneous objects fastened together
- employ organizational structures and analyze what makes them effective or not effective in the communication of ideas
- analyze, describe, and demonstrate how factors of time and place (such as climate, resources, ideas, and technology) influence visual characteristics that give meaning and value to a work of art
Students observed and described abstract relief sculptures created by Louise Nevelson.
They were amazed at how she was able to use found objects and one color to create such beautiful works of art.
To create their own sculptures, the students were given the task of collecting their own materials for their Nevelson-inspired found object sculpture.
We put a spin on this by using an old shoe as the canvas, rather than boxes, which was the norm for Nevelson.
When the sculptures were complete, they were painted a choice of black, white, silver or gold.
Adhesives: hot glue and glue guns
Spray paint in:
Recyled objects: Students collected these based on the theme of their assemblage.
Tools such as screwdrivers, hammers, pliers, wire cutters, exacto knives
An open mind
Procedure and assessment
Students will examine several of Nevelson's work. After collecting recycled materials for the assignment, students will play with the materials to come up with a design that is pleasing, and fitting to the objective.
Items will be glued nto the shoe canvas using hot glue.
When completed, it will be sprayed uniformly, using their choice of color.
Read the label carefully and follow all precautions when using any spray paint.
- Use of media
- Overall craftsmanship
- Difficulty of selected solution
- Visual impact
Is the sculpture considered "in the round" or "relief"?
Is the sculpture functional?
What makes the sculpture "fine art"? How do viewers define what is art and what is junk?
Assemblage in the style of Louise Nevelson
Who is your favorite "assemblage artist?"
Who is your favorite "assemblage" artist?
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© 2016 Gina Welds Hulse