Idea Box

In Celestial Navigation, Joseph Cornell created an assemblage of objects and images that invoked the knowledge and myths that represent the night sky. Cornell was interested in scientific discoveries, astronomy, art, and storytelling, and made his works to distill and combine his thoughts on these subjects. 

Ask students to think about something interesting, weird, or exciting that they recently learned. What objects or images might they use to represent this? Have students brainstorm ideas and then spend a few days collecting images and objects. Students can then create their own assemblage sculptures in small boxes that represent these new ideas.

Blue metal background with glasses in front.

Joseph Cornell, Celestial Navigation, c. 1958. Box construction with wood, glasses, marbles, plaster head, painted cork ball, metal rods, nails, paper collage, tempera, and painted glass, 9 5/8 × 16 1/4 × 4 in. (24.5 × 41.3 × 10.2 cm) overall. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; 60th Anniversary Gift of Estée Lauder Inc.  92.24a-k

Art © The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY