Get Inspired by Noah Purifoy

Noah Purifoy, Untitled, 1995, Mixed media assemblage mounted on canvas-backed plywood, 66 × 46 × 3 in., Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Palmer Dale and Isabel Camacho Diamond.

Make “junk” into art by creating an assemblage out of discarded items.
Assemblage is a three-dimensional artwork typically made from found objects.
The artist Noah Purifoy was influenced by the Dada and Surrealist artists whose work arose out of the destruction of World War II. Similarly, after the Watts Riots in Los Angeles, Purifoy sought to create new art forms out of the destruction left by the riots, using collected debris and discarded items in his art. He continued this practice when he moved to Joshua Tree in the desert near Palm Springs, where he made large-scale works from trash and other found objects. He used radiator parts and polished plaques found in junkyards in his mixed-media assemblage, Untitled, 1995, now in the museum’s collection
Think about ways you can be resourceful with items that might seem like trash but you find interesting in some ways and could use to create something new.

Learn more about Noah Purifoy.


  • Found items
  • Heavy-duty glue
  • Thick material for backing, such as a folder or box
  • Optional: scissors

Step 1

Have you been collecting items that you thought you might one day use, or do you throw random parts into a junk drawer? Sort through old games, tools, or office supplies and collect items to use in your assemblage. You might also think about objects that typically end up in the trash after one use, such as wrapping paper, paper towel rolls, bottles, or boxes.

Be sure to find something strong to use as your backing, such as an old folder or a piece of flat cardboard.

Step 2

Arrange your items on top of your backing. You may decide to cut some of your objects to create smaller pieces that can be used to create a design. Experiment with different arrangements until you find one that makes an interesting composition.

Step 3

Once your layout is finalized, glue your items with heavy-duty glue. It might be helpful to glue one item at a time, leaving the others in place so you do not forget your design. Or you can take a photo in case pieces move.

Tip: If you have heavy items, be sure to use glue strong enough to hold them in place.

Step 4

Once your composition has dried, examine your assemblage. You might decide to go back and fill in empty areas or add color with coloring supplies or colorful items.