Stella Inspires Teen Fabric Design Contest

By Michelle Harrell, Coordinator of Teen and College Programs

Kick off your school year inspired by Frank Stella’s Protractor series with a fabric design contest sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of Art and Spoonflower, a Durham-based print-on-demand textile company. Spoonflower is offering the first teens-only fabric contest inspired by Stella’s Protractor series to celebrate the debut of NCMA’s Art of Fashion high school online course.

Between 1967 and 1971, Stella created his monumental Protractor series of paintings with curvilinear forms and broad bands of colors. The series was named after the protractor drawing tool, but individual paintings were named for ancient circular-plan towns in Asia Minor. Inspired by the art and architecture he saw during a trip to Persia, Stella created large full and half circles in concentric colors on large shaped canvases. Raqqa II, one of the most popular works at NCMA, is part of this series. Reaching a height of ten feet by twenty five feet in length, the work fills an entire gallery in the Museum’s Modern and Contemporary Collection.

The geometric shapes and bold colors in Stella’’s Protractor series are ideal for inspiring a fabric design. High school students can scan hand-painted designs or work in photo editing programs, such as PhotoShop or GIMP. Designs entered into this contest can use no more than three colors from any of the paintings in the series. Black or white may be used as a possible 4th color.

How could you incorporate Stella’s work into your curriculum? See how elementary art teacher Laura Bierer adapted a 7th grade lesson in constructing circles to 4th grade. Educators may also find ideas for application on NCMA’s Teens, Inspired tumblr blog, which will feature blogposts about Stella and Spoonflower tutorials throughout September. Entries must be submitted on Spoonflower’s web-site by October 1 and winners will be featured in an exhibition at the Museum in Spring 2014. We look forward to seeing what students create!

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