Math + Art = Match Made in Heaven

I was never much of a math person. Well, I thought I was until I hit pre-calculus in college. Nothing seemed to resonate with me, so I gave it up…academically. I use math every single day of my life and yet somehow I feel completely resistant to it. That is until I attended a brown bag lecture called “When Mathematical Instruments Become Art Instruments” at CRMSE, the Center for Research in Math and Science Education at San Diego State University, a new client of KDR PR.

I was inspired by the creative potential in both teaching and learning math. The professors seek reflection and a more in depth understanding of the concepts from the students, and the students as a result are expressive and able to apply the learnings to their own lives.

Here are a couple of examples:

  1. Making math creative. Students use a math instrument called Alberti’s Window to peer through an eyehole through a vertical drawing pane to an object on the other side. Then they draw projected images of what they see on the pane, their “projective sketch,” an exercise inprojectivegeometry. The shape and size will vary depending on the angle they’re looking from and which side of the glass the object is on. Students are asked to use their imagination to figure out the shape and size before starting.
  2. Making math beautiful. Students are then asked to create a cluster of shapes using math software called Geometer’s Sketchpad based on their projective sketch. The resulting shapes are cut into stencils and then airbrushed into beautiful art pieces. One student who is a dancer wanted to create spirals because it reminded her of dance, so she found a creative way to use a projection to create another one to get the effect she wanted. Reflecting on her piece, she said she had never thought of her dance from a math perspective, and is now opening up her creativity in new ways and incorporating math elements into her dance.

What I loved hearing in the student testimonials is that art is no longer intimidating to them. That we’re all artists and mathematicians, we just may not have uncovered it yet. I say we all step back for a moment to figure out what we “think” we can’t do and then go try it out. It’ll be fun!