Discussing 3D Relief Sculptures, Middle Schoolers Think Critically About Abstract Art

Middle School math coordinator Jessica Merrick and Middle School art teacher Veronika Bromberg joined forces recently for another art integration project on Frank Stella. Ms. Merrick and Ms. Bromberg presented a class of 6th grade students with Frank Stella’s sculptural work “Pachanak” (1979), a part of his exotic bird series.

The students were asked to make observations about “Pachanak” — they discussed “How does Stella’s artistic background inform this piece?” and “What inspired the shapes in the piece?” Students learned how best to describe a work of art, analyze and interpret it, and, finally, how to evaluate it. This inspired students to think more critically about the components that go into developing a piece of art, which then can inform their own creative thought process. 

In response to “Pachanak,” the 6th graders are being asked to make a relief sculpture like Frank Stella’s. Using paper, poster board, markers and mixed media including recycled and found objects, 6th grade students assembled a unified relief composition using geometric shapes with patterns and designs that they learned about in math class. 

“Frank Stella encompasses components that are multi-faceted. Geometric forms were apparent in his work from the time he began as a developing artist all the way up to his later work,” Ms. Bromberg explained. “Stella's work represents the melding of all three content areas that are perfect examples of an interdisciplinary approach to learning in the 6th grade while meeting classroom objectives and curriculum standards in art.”