Family Activities: Raqqa II
By Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs
Many-shaped hat. What shapes can you find in this painting? Arches, semicircles, lines; what else? Turn these shapes into a piece of wearable art by using cardboard and paint. First, cut a thin strip of cardboard for the base of your hat. Tip: smooth it over the edge of a table to give the cardboard a slight curve. Wrap the cardboard strip around the crown of your head, and staple it where the strip overlaps. Then, use paint to cover additional scraps of cardboard. When the paint dries, use scissors to cut and trim the shapes into arches and semicircles of different sizes. Experiment with layering different color combinations or creating patterns with your shapes. Have an adult assist with gluing the shapes together and onto the hat base with a hot glue gun.
Color matching. What colors can you find in this work of art? Look closely and you’ll see shades and hues of paint from across the rainbow. Fine-tune your eye to observe these colors by creating and playing a matching game using paint chips. You can typically find these free at your local hardware or paint store. Start with two of each color chip, or select wide ones you can cut in half. For each chip, leave one palette intact, and cut the other into its individual colors. Glue each of the individual colors onto the end of a clothespin or hair clip. To play the matching game, scramble the colorful clips and try to find where each one belongs on the palette. Clip it in place when you’ve matched the color.
Shaped canvases. During the time he painted Raqqa II, Frank Stella created a series of paintings that had curved lines on canvases that were anything but rectangles or squares. Using your finger, trace the outline of this painting to see how irregular its shape is! Create your own painting on an irregularly shaped canvas by using materials you find around you. You can use a rock, a piece of cardboard, or a sturdy leaf; anything that has an interesting shape and a mostly flat surface will do. Then, use a paintbrush or paint pens to cover its surface with colors and marks, paying attention to the unique outline of your object.
Read, Watch, and Move
Color Dance by Ann Jonas. The arches and semicircles in Raqqa II make our eyes move across the painting as if we’re watching a dance. This book shows, through the movements of young dancers, how colors blend together. Enjoy a read-along video here.
Three years before he painted Raqqa II, Frank Stella created the set and costumes for a dance called Scramble, by his friend choreographer Merce Cunningham. You can see images of the costumes and decor here.
Watch another dance choreographed by Merce Cunningham called Second Hand (1969) below. How do the dancers move across the stage? Can you re-create any of their movements? Look closely at the costumes they wear (designed by another artist, Jasper Johns). Do the colors remind you of Raqqa II? Of Color Dance? Why?