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"Stop Action Frieze"

Coogan, Jay

Wellington/Harrington, Sculpture



Frisoli Youth Center

Title: Stop-Action-Frieze
Date: 1998
Materials: Powder coated aluminum
Dimensions: 22 figures, each 3 ft. high
Location: Frisoli Youth Center

Seeing and experiencing

Even the title of Jay Coogan's sculptural installation suggests movement and rhythm. Full of dynamic motion, Coogan's band of exuberant figures enlivens the Frisoli Youth Center. Stop-Action-Frieze is a play on words, since it also refers to the style of the piece. A "frieze" is a band of decoration along a wall.


What do the figures tell you about the activities that take place at the Youth Center? Can you find examples of how the piece challenges conventional stereotypes?


How do you think the artist created such a joyful sense of energy? Rhythm is born out of movement. How do you think Coogan's piece would sound? Snap your fingers or clap your hands to create a beat inspired by the figures in the piece.


Color contributes to the overall feeling. If the figures were black or grey, how would the piece feel?


The figures have been captured in mid-action. What do you think would happen if the figures "un-froze?"


What you will need: Sidewalk chalk.


Lie down on the pavement adjacent to the Youth Center. Assume a dynamic (although flat) pose. Have a friend trace your body with the chalk. See how many different shapes you can create with your body. Now trace your friend's body. When you have finished, look at your drawings. Do they remind you of Coogan's artwork?

What you will need: 20 -25 index cards, metal clips, pens or pencils.


Coogan's piece is action-packed, with figures busily engaged in playing a game. Use one of Coogan's game players as the basis for a flipbook. Pick your favorite figure and draw it on one index card. On the next index card, slightly adjust your figure's pose. Trace from the first card by placing the second card on top it and hold the pair up to a window. As you trace, move the figure's leg or arm just a tiny bit, no more than an eighth of an inch. Make 20 more sketches in the same way, changing your character's position bit by bit. Clip the stack of cards. Flip the cards from back to front. The figure will come to life! If the movement seems jerky, add drawings that make the changes more gradual.


Make other books, experimenting with different materials and shapes.

What you will need: Energy and imagination.


Transform yourself into a work of art by playing "Stop-Action-Freize," a fun spin on charades. You'll need at least two more people to play. Decide who will go first. That person chooses a favorite activity or an activity from Coogan's piece. He or she then silently acts out their activity (like in charades).


When someone thinks they know the activity, they yell, "Freeze!" The performer must halt in mid-motion - becoming a living frieze figure! The "guesser" must say what he or she thinks the performer is doing. If the guesser is correct, then it is that person's turn. If not, the performer resumes the activity until someone gets it right. Play until everyone has a turn.


Keep the game going. Ask one of your friends to assume the "freeze" pose that you liked best. Now sketch your friend or model them in clay. Or make an abstract sculpture inspired by the pose out of found objects, cardboard, etc. Turn the game into a life-study art project!