• Motorcycle Riders

    Henry Clay Anderson, Motorcycle Riders. Gelatin silver print, 14 1/8 x 11 1/8 inches. Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

  • Green Volkswagen

    Don Eddy, Green Volkswagen. Acrylic on canvas, 66 x 95 inches. Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

Recycled Materials Vehicle Sculpture

Visual Arts


3: Exploring with Friends in the Neighborhood

2 45-minute lessons


What is recycling/upcycling?
What is sculpture?
What is the difference between 2 and 3 dimensional?

I can "upcycle" materials to create something new.
I can use art tools and materials safely.
I can use my immediate environment for inspiration.

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University

Direct Instruction

Display Motorcycle Riders, by Henry Clay Anderson and Green Volkswagen, by Don Eddy.

Compare and contrast the two artworks. Discuss their settings and colors. Identify shapes and time of day. Discuss whether their settings are urban or rural. Encourage students to support their inferences by asking, “What do you see that makes you say that?”

Then introduce the artist David Edgar and his upcycled art (see www.plastiquarium.com).

Discuss methods of reusing, or upcycling, materials that are often thrown away after their initial use.

Guided Practice/Application and Independent

Demonstrate how to use found materials to create a sculpture.

Have students gather materials that are interesting to them and work in groups to create a sculpture based on one of the artworks. They can hold their pieces in place using the chenille stems and bring work to teacher to be glued with hot glue.

Classroom Extension Ideas

Students’ sculptures can be a great source of inspiration for narrative or informative writing. Some prompts you can use for a writing activity include:

  • Write a letter to a friend describing a ride you took in your recycled materials vehicle. Where did you go? Who drove? What did it feel like to ride in this vehicle? Was it like riding in a car or bus?
  • Write instructions to a friend on how to create their own recycled materials vehicle sculpture. What materials do you need? What should you do first? Then what?
  • Write a fictional story in which you visit a far-off city and discover that everyone rides in vehicles made of recycled materials. What did their vehicles look like? How were they similar to the vehicles you see in your community? How were they different?

Differentiation and Modifications:

Modification: Assistance is given on an as needed basis. If a student is an early finisher s/he becomes an art helper and assists other students in need.


Student must create a 3-D sculpture using recycled materials with either 2 or 4 wheels and choose at least 5 objects to use in sculpture.

Materials Needed

clean recycled items from home, chenille stems , hot glue (for teacher use)


upcycling, recycling, sculpture, lines, colors, hue, shapes; round, square, rectangle, triangle, cylinder, box

Artwork in this Lesson

  • Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
    • Henry Clay Anderson | Motorcycle Riders
    • Don Eddy | Green Volkswagen

Sample Student Work