To make these 3D paintings, low-relief paper sculptures...or whatever you want to call them, we started by spending 2 days making painted paper using tempera on drawing paper, thin cardboard and corrugated cardboard. This was my hook - low stress, high success, and oh-so-messy painting! Each student painted at least 3 pieces of 12 x 18" paper, one cereal box (thank you to my Mom, sisters, and many teachers at school for collecting boxes for me!), and one rectangle of corrugated cardboard (the corrugated cardboard is what we used as the "base" or "canvas" that we later built upon).
Next, we did A LOT of cutting. I had some sets of French curves (Stella is known for having derived his forms from cones, pillars, French curves, waves and decorative architectural elements for some of his works in the 1980s) that the eighth graders traced and they also cut out some of their own shapes.
Before constructing, we watched a short video of Stella talking about his process and viewed images of some of his works. For our projects, we did it backwards (we painted THEN cut our shapes instead of making what we wanted to paint on first as Stella does) but I still thought it was valuable for them to hear the artist talk about his work. To put all of the pieces together, we used thin strips of cereal box cardboard folded into accordions and hot glue. To quell my fears and protect fingers, each glue station also had a pair of inexpensive garden gloves for the kids to wear.
The eighth graders did a beautiful job and our school community was enthusiastic about seeing some abstract work on display! They've been up for several weeks now and I still see kids, parents and teachers checking them out everyday!