Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Abstract Cardboard Sculptures, Inspired by Frank Stella

Last month, 1st grade artists looked at and discussed the work of artist Frank Stella. We learned that he is a contemporary artist, which means he is still alive and making art today.  
Frank Stella, Pachanak (1979)
Stella began his career making abstract art, focusing on geometric shapes, and later on he explored large 3D collage artworks. We looked at and discussed some of his later 3D artworks. Students noticed that Stella used many different kinds of shapes, materials and colors.  
Frank Stella, Shark Massacre (1988)
We also discussed the abstract nature of his work, focusing on what we noticed and observed in the artwork. We spent some time on one artwork in particular, called Shark Massacre. Some students thought the sharp triangles reminded them of shark fins, while others connected the shapes to waves on the ocean and other students felt they were similar to rows of sharp teeth. We talked about how abstract work allows us to have personal interpretations, depending on how we see and connect to the work.
After discussing his work, we learned that we could combine different pieces of cardboard to create our own abstract sculptures in different ways. One method we focused on is slotting, which involves cutting a slot into two different pieces and sliding them together. Students chose several different pieces of cardboard and combined them together, using slotting among other techniques. We added glue to make sure all the pieces were secure and let them dry. 
The following class, students painted their cardboard sculptures, making sure to turn them around to get all the different sides. Students expertly mixed together a variety of different colors, sharing "recipes" with each other for new colors. After allowing them to dry, we added patterns to the sculptures during the next class. Students brainstormed different pattern examples, such as stripes, polka dots, zig zag lines, repeated shapes, etc. Students also got metallic paint to use, which worked well with many different color backgrounds.
The very last step was to coat the sculptures with a layer of Mod Podge, to seal the paint and to make sure all the pieces stayed together. Students also created titles or names for their sculptures, thinking about what inspired their design or what their sculptures reminded them of. Below are some examples of our abstract Frank Stella inspired sculptures on display at the recent Art & Music Extravaganza


Anna, 1st grade (Massa)
Katie, 1st grade (Salvucci)
NJ, 1st grade (Salvucci)
Sophie, 1st grade (Salvucci)

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