Found Object Art

Shelli Davenport, Arwen FournierMoon, Lacy Mendoza, Clara Peterson, Ryan Taub

Grades: 9-12

Duration: 2 class periods- approximately 90 minutes each

Theme: Found object art draws connections from skills, the community, and the artist.

Students will learn about the concepts and principles behind art created with found objects through discussion and word association involving examples. Then they will learn about the process of planning for artworks by sketching found objects in a sculptural design and discussing how it could actually be assembled.


-The students will gain an understanding of found object art and some artists that produce found object art.
-The students will understand the use of materials and what they can symbolize in found object art.
-The students will understand how found art can lead to a job or create useful skills for a job.
-The students will think of and draw a piece of art they would like to create using found objects.
-The students will design a piece of art from the found objects everyone brings in.

Arizona State Standards (grades 9-12)

Creating Art

-Apply media, techniques and processes with controlled skill in artwork.
-Create artwork demonstrating skill and craftsmanship and a sensitivity to the media.
-Assess progression of skill, craftsmanship, confidence, understanding and sensitivity through established criteria in one known artwork.
-Explain the skills and techniques necessary to complete an artwork in one visual art form.
-State reasons for making artistic decisions

Art in Context.

-Determine the factors responsible for influencing works of art.
-Identify and evaluate the role of the visual arts and artists in business, industry, technology and the community.

Art as Inquiry.

-Identify and critique the reasons for the success or need for improvement in a progression of their own works.
-Identify intentions of those creating artworks, compare the implications of the various purposes, and justify analysis of purposes in particular works.
-Compare the materials, technologies, media, and processes of the visual arts with those of other arts disciplines and subject areas to create and analyze artworks.

Teaching Activities: Day 1

-Have the students critique a work made out of found objects. (10 minutes)

-Introduction to found object art. Present students with the basic concepts behind found object art and how it came about. How the meanings of the objects are changed when placed in a new context. (10 minutes)

-Discuss works made from found objects and the artists who made them,ie; Louise Nevelson, Wes Mode, Bruce Gray,etc. (30 minutes)


-What is the concept behind the work/What do you think is the purpose of the work?
-Who do you think is the intended audience?
-What skills do you think were involved in making this work?
-Why do you think these particular objects were used?
-How do the objects that were used shape the overall message/effect of the piece?
-What is the purpose of using found objects to make sculpture as opposed to conventional materials like clay, metal, or wood?

Object/word association:

-Have the students come up with words they associate with two different objects and then switch the different word associations to see how the object changes in our perceptions. (10 minutes)

-Assign the students homework consisting of finding at least five objects to bring next time. (20 minutes)

-Explain the parameters for selecting objects.
The objects should have some quality you find appealing or curious. Perhaps they exhibit some element of design such as line, form, texture, etc. They have interesting purposes.
-Explain what students cannot bring to class.

No sharp objects. Objects that are dangerous or go against school rules are unacceptable.
Don’t bring in anything that goes against school rules.
Clean food items out before bringing them into class.
Don’t bring in smelly or messy objects.
Try to bring in objects that are not found in their backpacks.

Day 2

-Discuss the objects that students have brought (30 minutes)


What is interesting about the objects?
What are their original purposes?
What are they made of?
Where were they found?
Identify any principles or elements of design within each object.

-Have each student design a found object piece by sketching the objects that everyone brought in. (30 minutes)


How will the objects fit together?
How will the work be oriented?
How will the objects relate to the work as a whole?

-Discuss everyone’s designs in terms of what they have learned so far. (25 minutes)


How do the objects that were used relate to the work?
In what kind of environment would you present this piece? Who would you sell it to?
What other materials would you need to create this piece?
What kinds of skills and equipment would you need to create this piece?
How could the skills that you have used so far in planning for this piece relate to other subjects or vocations besides art?

-Evaluation: Ask the students their opinion of the lesson and implied studio project. (5 minutes)


Did you find the subject interesting at all?
Do you feel like you’ve learned anything to expand your view of art? If so, explain.
What parts of the lesson did you like or dislike? Why/why not?

Other questions:

What do you think this work is made out of?
What is the significance of the materials that were used? What is this work about?
Does it have an overall meaning?
What kinds of conclusions might you make about the work or the artist who created it?
What kinds of qualities does this work have?
Do you think that found object art should only be a composite of objects, or can a found object be altered and reduced to something else? Why/why not.
What do you think makes an artist successful?
Pieces sold or good reviews and publicity? Why/why not.
What does the object look like?
Does it evoke something else?
Could it, together with other found objects create something’s new?
What is the relationship between the objects?
Do you think the objects have a history in the artist’s life?
How do you value found object art?
How would you compare found object art to another fine art piece, for instance a bronze sculpture?
Do you value both art works the same? Why/why not?
Is found art beautiful? Why/why not?
Should the objects have a conceptual meaning when you create a found object sculpture? Why/why not?
Should each piece of the sculpture be a found object or should the artist be able to mix media?

Student Assessment:

Students' involvement in discussion- (5 pts)
Students initial drawing of a found object piece- (10 pts)
Found objects brought in by the student- (5 pts) *half credit for object found in classroom*
Students design for a piece using the materials gathered by the class- (10pts)
Total- (30 pts)



-Artists who have worked with found objects:

Louise Nevelson
Bruce Gray
Richard Deacon
Bill Woodrow
Claes Oldenburg

Alison Wilding
Seymour Locks
Anish Kappor
Marcel DuChamp
John Chamberlain

Wes Mode
Art Grant
Richard Stankiewiez
Tony Cragg
Alexander Calder

-Words to know:

Found objects- Objects of inconsequential material found just about anywhere, with interesting origins, history, or purposes, or exhibiting elements or principles of design or other aesthetic qualities.
Found object art- Art assembled from various found objects.
Principles of Design:

repetition- The appearance of similar design features again and again.
variety- A mixture of different design features.
rhythm- The measured repetition of visual accents; similar to musical rhythm.
balance- The equal distribution of visual weight as influenced by other principles and elements.
emphasis- The stressing of a particular characteristic or area.
economy- The absence of nonessential components.
proportion- The relationships between sizes.

Elements of Design:

line- An area whose length is greater than its width, or in which two planes meet.
form- The volume and shape of a three-dimensional work, including negative space.
value- The degree of lightness or darkness.
space- The three-dimensional field in which the artist works.
texture- The surface characteristics of a work that are either felt or perceived visually.
color- self-explanatory
time- Representing a time or exhibiting the passage through time.

*Homework Assignment:
Collect five objects that interest you. Objects can be beautiful, ugly, curious; it doesn’t matter. Look for objects that have interesting conceptual qualities such as purpose, origin, or associations. Look for objects with interesting physical qualities such as line, form, texture, color, etc. Please no dangerous objects, overly smelly or messy objects, or objects found in your backpack. Please do not bring anything that goes against school policy.
Bring these five objects to class on Monday, April 19.

-Related Web Sites:
-Wes Mode:
-Bruce Gray:

-Books to consider:
Mark Francis Edinburgh, Bill Woodrow: Sculpture 1980-86
The British Council, Transformations: New Sculpture from Britain
Lloyd E. Herman, Transhformations
Kunsthalle Bern, Chamberlain
Michael Auping, John Chamberlain: Reliefs 1960-1982
Coosje van Bruggen, Claes Oldenburg: Mouse Museum/Ray Gun Wing