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Submitted by: Heather Leal, Lathrop Intermediate School in Santa Ana, CA
UNIT: Sculpture - Art about Sports - Frank Stella - Recycling
Grade Level: Middle School (adaptable to elementary and high school)
High School lesson idea by Debbie Nichols
High School Cardboard Relief Lesson by Jeanie Ritter
Can you tell which sports these represent? Heather's students did all sorts of sports - three shown below.
Heather's unit began with a study of the work of Frank Stella. See this interactive site for kids.
The "What You See is What You See" exhibit on Frank Stella
Select an activity such as bicycling, skiing, dancing, or playing ball, and list:
1) the objects or equipment used for this activity
2) the sounds related to the activity
3) the movement or speed of the activity
4) the feelings you have when you watch or do this activity; do you feel excited, scared, powerful, peaceful, happy?
The lesson came from this "Activity from the Online Presentation":
Think of how you can express all these ideas with shapes, colors, and art materials, such as paper and cardboard. Review how Frank Stella created the excitement, speed, and noise of a racetrack with curved shapes and bold colors in Jarama II, then plan and create your mysterious work of art. Can your friends guess the activity you had in mind?
More on Frank Stella at Artcyclopedia.
Book: Frank Stella: Painting into Architecture - This book demonstrates how Stella’s formal concerns have evolved from paintings to wall reliefs to freestanding sculptures that extend into architecture.
Print: Jill 1959 by Frank Stella
Description of Project from Heather Leal
I used Frank Stella Jarama II as the launching point for an abstract art assignment using sports as theme and cardboard.
We made large cardboard reliefs using the idea of motion involved in various sports. The students worked in pairs or threes and each group chose a sport. We brainstormed together to get as many different sports as possible, and while I didn't say absolutely no, I encouraged each group to choose a different sport.
Next, the groups brainstormed all the different things involved with their sport- equipment, # of players, field or place, how the game is played etc- everything they could think of. Then we talked specifically about the movement and motion involved in all the aspects of their sport. What the player does- how they move, how the ball or equipment moves- directions of throws or passes etc. tackles, dives, spins, falls, kicks, jumps, whatever is in their sport- and to really think about the things that make their sport unique. They made clusters of their ideas, and did sketches- there was a lot of getting up and trying out the movements to see what it really looked like at this point - very cool. Then they had to draw shapes that showed the path of the motions they had figured out. Trace the line the ball traveled sort of thing. How do you draw the path of the movement of feet running? what does the movement in a tackle look like? - lots of thinking happened.
They took all their shapes drawn on newsprint then, cut them out and began playing with arrangements together. They had to have at least 6 shapes in their final piece.
Shapes were cut from corrugated cardboard. I had to help with a lot since I just wasn't comfortable with them using X-actos. These were 6th graders (7th and 8th should be able to handle cutting on their own)
The pieces were painted with tempera, using color schemes that represented the sport. (not sure how many really thought about that - but they sure enjoyed using lots of color!)
The pieces were then glued together and hung. Each group had to title their work and write an artist's statement explaining the work. A rubric was used for the students to score their own work before I used the same rubric to grade them.
Helpful hints: Use this narrative to write your own formal lesson plan. What was really neat, is Heather had the students use their scraps to make one large "installation" that went down the hallway... It was really wonderful! - at least ten feet long. It might be really fun to have some of this work be a Macquette for a larger wood piece for your school. Select a section of the larger installation - or combine some of the best sports relief works and have a parent cut the shapes out of plywood (larger - but to scale)....Students paint - then assemble for a permanent wall sculpture somewhere in your building. The students are still the "artists" - the parent is the craftsman - just following the ideas of the kids. Frank Stella did not cut his own pieces for his relief sculptures - he painted them. The pieces were cut to his specifications. Less permanent would be Dow Styrofoam... but easier to cut. Foamboard would be an alternate material to use.
Scrap Relief Installation
From Heather: We had so many cool scraps and shapes left after making our sports abstractions that I had each student use one of their scraps and glue it together with the others. We hung our scrap relief on the wall outside the classroom. It was about 10 feet long and maybe 3.5 feet high. It is one of my favorite collaborative things we have done
Submitted by: Debbie Nichols, Texas High School
My students have used the Styrofoam insulation sheets with great success especially since these were donated. We did have a problem with stability. This year we are using foam core and these are working better.
The students must first build a frame with 1 X 2. For many of the students it is their first experience with a miter saw. We join the pieces with strips of metal from a piece of corrugated metal.
Frank Stella for inspiration from Patty Knott:
In the past few years I have deviated from the DBAE model on historical lessons. Since I can not bear any "in the style of " lessons, but SO value the contributions of the great artists, this is where I have spent much of my thinking and planning. When I do history or periods or individual artists, I ask the students to evaluate the subject matter/content, relate the content to social/ technological influences of the time period and ask why? Why did the artist make the choices? If I want to relate a particular artist to a technique, I focus the investigation on the the materials and the use of the materials and the whys? and the how the artist made choices to inform the mark making.
The invention and the originality comes from all the possibilities within the parameters. For instance, yesterday I gave an assignment.: (this is abbreviated) What shape is your family? -- cardboard relief sculpture. Assign a simple shape to each member of your family what shape? what texture? what sound? what color? Arrange the shapes in front and back positions. Where do you fit? How will you arrange the shapes to create depth? How will shadows influence? make patterns and construct a plan for a relief (of course I gave some background on what a relief is)
The first question was "can you give an example?" NO, I said. They got to work on the shapes, but putting it together was a problem. Today I talked about Frank Stella. (Stella is far from what was in my mind for the project, but Stella is what I thought might provoke some thinking.) We looked at Stella's work but I emphasized that I did not expect any Stella look-a-likes. I'm amazed at what happened immediately. Apparently they didn't get the idea of a "relief" but seeing Stella put them into all directions. I have all kinds of sketch plans and none look like Stella. Three boys got together and asked if they could do something "really big?" They are working with my studio lights trying to devise abstract shapes that when illuminated will project a recognizable shadow. The shadow will become the art.
I'm so impressed with their thinking. One girl went on the computer, drew her shapes into Painter and started playing with the pattern tools. Her original shapes were very thoughtful ---- her computer manipulations are incredible ... one of my worst ADD boys told me his family is just a circle that becomes a square and he is morphing that image and I may try to get him to do it in Flash..... another student is planning a video installation. By the end of the period, I was so impressed with their thinking -- I offered a challenge - Give me a great cardboard model and I will beg borrow and steal to get sheet metal to realize your plans into permanent reliefs for the walls of our new building. They are so excited and this all came from a simple "What shape is your family?"
Additional Resources for Shaped Paintings
Jack Reilly - Individual shaped-canvases are arranged in stacked multiple layers and utilize various painting methods ranging from traditional oils to highly textured.
Steve Draeger- All three-dimensional wall sculptures are precisely constructed of different varieties of wood, canvas, and painted with acrylic paints.