Lawrence M. Lesser

UTEP Distinguished Teaching Professor; Professor of Mathematics Education

Mathematical Sciences Department, The University of Texas at El Paso

El Paso, Texas, USA


I love creating art to explore or synthesize mathematical content for myself, my students, the public and, ideally, to connect with the real world. My mathematical art includes roughly 200 published mathematical songs, lyrics, or poems. Poems can take a visual turn and I’ve published some (including a differently-titled earlier version of my current piece) in venues such as the mathematical visual poetry blog curated by Kaz Maslanka, who kindly provided technical help. I especially love when the very structure or shape of my art embodies mathematical concepts, and as a mathematics education researcher, my mathematical art is in dialogue with my view of the process/struggle of learning concepts.


Image for entry 'Levels of MEANing'

Levels of MEANing

50.8 x 40.64 cm

Image-editing software


Doing research on statistics mnemonics (e.g., in JSDSE) and seeing Creative Instruction's “Math Graffiti” posters inspired my mathematical wordplay-based art. The lowest level of understanding the arithmetic mean (Pre-K-12 GAISE II, p. 18) is a “fair share value” -- each person’s portion if a resource were shared equally. This is also a “levelling value” corresponding to the height x of the A’s extended crossbar, and x is the mean of the 4 letters’ heights if they were .5x, .5x, 2x, x. A higher level of understanding the mean is as a “balance point,” where A’s apex is the fulcrum placed where unit weights at M and E balance two weights stacked at N: the mean of the 4 weights’ x-coordinates is the x-coordinate of the fulcrum.