Ricardo Nemirovsky and J. Brooke Ernest

Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Education, San Diego State University
San Diego, California, United States

Our view is that art projects in mathematics courses enrich students’ understandings of mathematical ideas, by making memorable to students aspects of the learning process. Thus, students in our courses create mathematically-inspired art projects. Students' sources of inspiration are diverse–such as, classroom mathematical activity, individual life experiences, and aesthetically pleasing, emergent, visual patterns.

In our Technology in Teaching Mathematics course, each student uses dynamic geometry software to create a design that incorporates one or more ideas of complex function geometry. Each design is embroidered, using an embroidery machine, and becomes a square of a class quilt.

In our Foundations of Geometry course, each student uses dynamic geometry software to create a design where projective geometry must play a fundamental role. A stencil is cut of each design, and students use the stencil in conjunction with an airbrush to paint their design in any way they desire.

Complex Functions Quilt, 2010
48 in x 72 in
Computer assisted embroidery

Artists: Spring 2010 Technology in Teaching Mathematics students, San Diego State University

Each square on the quilt was designed by a student using ideas from the geometry of complex functions. When you touch a square of the quilt on the the accompanying iPad - which displays a photo of the quilt - a video of the artist will play describing how they constructed their design.

Perspective from a Point
16 in x 19 in
Stencil with Airbrush

Artist: Whitney Niceswanger

"I used the theorem that states two triangles perspective from a point are also perspective from a line as the basis for my design. I put a spin on this idea to say that two triangles perspective from a point are still perspective from a point after being projected, which is what my painting shows.

The process of creating my painting illuminated the hidden art behind projective geometry. This art in turn revealed the subtle connection between all the theorems, in that they all deal with the alignment and symmetry of space and objects, which lays the foundation for patterns and design. Viewing math through the lens of art frees math from the confines of its stereotypical image as difficult and boring. This allows for the abstract aspects of math to be delved into and enjoyed, like with art, rather than feared and misunderstood. Seeing Mathematics as an art form facilitates just the kind of creative thinking that is a requirement for a good mathematician."

16 in x 19 in
Stencil with Airbrush

Artist: Steve Dale

"I was thinking to myself, that I should make a simple design that I can manipulate on the canvass, but then when I woke up one day, I had an idea I couldn’t shake. I wanted to play with the construction of the golden spiral and the transformations that could be done with projection.

When I do music performances with the bands I’m in, I like to leave a little bit of the performance up to chance, and mood, so that I can feed off the energy in the moment. I think retaining a little spontaneity in the process lets more of my unconscious self into the art (of any type). So, I didn’t plan everything completely out, I decided on the colors the moment before painting. Also, I allowed decisions about in the shading and depth of color, and the, kind of, sub-shapes created inside of the shading happen while I was painting so that hopefully I could unconsciously let the canvass retain a bit of my own perspective and personality."