Eighth graders explored the connection between math and art this week in Middle School Math teacher Karen Seder's geometry class. The students have been studying the geometric concept of rigid transformations, and Seder was inspired to ask them to look for examples of these concepts in digital art created by Upper School students.
In looking at the art displays, the eighth grade students could see a number of the geometric concepts involved in these patterns, including reflection, translation, and rotation, as well as reflectional and rotational symmetry. Seder asked them to identify lines of symmetry, centers of rotation, and to try to find the vectors used for translations. (A vector is an object that has both magnitude and direction. Imagine a row of images facing in the same direction, where you can draw a line through them.)
Among their observations, the eighth graders noted that it’s harder to see geometric concepts in organic and curved shapes such as leaves than in shapes with angles and straight sides such as squares.
The digital art class is taught by Upper School Art teacher Clare Odom. Student Kamran M. ’26 shared, “I made the dark green pattern with the light green lines. I started out by doodling with an ink pen on paper and taking pictures of what I made. I isolated the lines of ink in Photoshop, copied them a bunch of times, and chopped them up. I decided on an analogous color scheme, which uses similar hues, in this case a darker, cooler green and a lighter, warmer green. I used the offset tool to make sure the square was consistently covered with lines. This was where I had to think about geometry the most. The offset tool lets you translate the canvas vertically and horizontally, and it loops it infinitely both ways (sort of like Google Maps, but it repeats vertically as well). This made it easy to put what were formerly the sides into the center, so I could patch up any gaps and make it look continuous. Then I doubled the height and width of the canvas and filled it with three reflected copies of the original quadrant to make my final tile.”
The eight graders will be making their own designs next. “They will be incorporating these geometric concepts, but instead of approaching it in a digital way, they will be using their compasses and straight edges to construct their final product,” said Seder. “This is a fun and creative way for them to demonstrate their knowledge of these ideas.”
The digital art is currently on display in the Upper School lobby.