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The Interplay Between Art and Math: Lessons from a STEM-based Art and Math course

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This presentation describes the team-teaching of a course in mathematics and art. The goal of the class is to show students the interplay between art and math with a focus on having them make physical objects. Most math and art classes we have heard of focus primarily on introducing liberal arts students to mathematics. In a STEM context, we want to instead build on the mathematical knowledge that our students already have. We intend for students to use their existing mathematical (and perhaps artistic) knowledge to reinforce new artistic (and perhaps mathematical) experiences. Ideally, the knowledge and experience gained will increase their appreciation for both the beauty of mathematics and the importance of art.

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The Interplay Between Art and Math: Lessons from a STEM-based Art and Math course

  1. 1. Joshua Holden Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology http://www.rose-hulman.edu/~holden The Interplay Between Art and Math: Lessons from a STEM-based Art and Math course
  2. 2. Soully Abas, Assistant Professor of Art, specializing in oil painting and printmaking. Josh Holden, Professor of Mathematics, interested in the mathematics of fiber arts such as embroidery, knitting, crochet, and weaving.
  3. 3. Enrollment: More than 2,200 undergraduate students and more than 70 graduate students Faculty-Student Ratio: 1:13 Average Class Size: 20 Undergraduate Majors: 19, all in natural science, engineering, mathematics, or economics Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Arts houses 18 minors, International Studies second major, and Economics All students take at least 4 quarters of math and 9 quarters in HSSA No math and art class until this year (as far as I can tell)
  4. 4. IA 399-01 (Art & Mathematics), Spring 2018-2019 This course explores the interplay between art and math with emphasis on hands-on projects. Students will investigate the use of artistic media to illustrate mathematical concepts. Additionally, students will be able to explain artistic phenomena such as perspective, optical illusions through the use of mathematics. Students will use their existing mathematical or artistic knowledge to reinforce new artistic (and perhaps mathematical) experiences. The knowledge and experience gained will increase students' appreciation for both the beauty of mathematics and the significance of art. Capacity: 12
  5. 5. IA 399-01 (Art & Mathematics), Spring 2018-2019 Objectives: 1. Identify the role of mathematics in developing various artistic concepts 2. Apply mathematical concepts to the creation of a visual composition 3. Produce works of art using specific media 4. Interpret works of art in mathematical context 5. Properly use the vocabulary of art 6. Compare and contrast aesthetic principles commonly used by artists with those commonly used by mathematicians
  6. 6. Twelve students finished the class. (One dropped the class after being sick during the first project.) Class years: Year 4: 5 Year 3: 7 (5 had senior standing) Majors: Mechanical Engineering: 3 Mathematics: 3 Biomedical Engineering: 2 Computer Science: 1 Computer Engineering: 1 Mathematics and Physics: 1 Software Engineering: 1 Art Minors: 3
  7. 7. The grading was based on three categories. 65% Finished projects 25% Performance in Critique 10% Quizzes Performance: Critiques are a significant part of this class. You are expected to present finished work for critique and to participate fully (in other words, you are expected to speak intelligently about the work you are looking at, using vocabulary appropriate to a college-level studio course). We expect that you will be respectful, neat, and engaged in the class content.
  8. 8. Projects were graded on a rubric with four criteria. Composition: Composition is well thought out with an excellent ratio of positive to negative space. Excellent balance (shapes, colors…etc.) high level of complexity in approaching [mathematical concept]. Mathematical Concept: Student showed an excellent understanding of [mathematical concept]. Every concept was immediately perceived and understood. Creative problem solving. Craftsmanship: The project has outstanding attention to fine details. Student used appropriate techniques masterfully. Work is neat and clean. Creative Problem Solving: The student demonstrated outstanding problem solving. Spoke intelligently about the work and was aware of all the decisions they made. Used appropriate mathematical and artistic terms.
  9. 9. Project 1 Islamic Art and Symmetry [Sarhangi, 2015]
  10. 10. [Adam Stephenson]
  11. 11. [Taylor Vohland]
  12. 12. Project 2 Weaving and Enumeration [Gloria Todor, activerain.com]
  13. 13. [Lee Trent]
  14. 14. [Megan Dado]
  15. 15. Project 3 Wood Burning and Fractals [Symmetry Festival, 2013]
  16. 16. [Megan Dado]
  17. 17. [Chloe Wang]
  18. 18. Project 4 Equations and Generative Art
  19. 19. [Kennedy Schnieders]
  20. 20. [Kennedy Schnieders]
  21. 21. [Lee Trent]
  22. 22. [Lee Trent]
  23. 23. What did we learn (so far)? • I had no idea that there were so many Rose students interested in art. • Being good at math and good at art does not immediately translate into being good at mathematical art. • There is a “third space” combining math and art that requires practice and thought to reach.
  24. 24. Thanks for listening! [Photo by Lee Trent]

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