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Interdisciplinary Connections: The Art of Math

Artists and architects from different times and cultures have been fascinated by mathematical concepts and have long used them to create unique works of art. Mathematical concepts are found in Islamic mosaics, medieval rose windows, patchwork quilts, Op art, tessellations, geodesic domes, and other forms of art. For all practical purposes, the artistic and mathematical concepts in such works are virtually inseparable. Increased understandings of art and math will complement both disciplines so it is beneficial to learn and use the vocabulary for both subjects.

The Internet offers significant websites for exploring the natural connections between art and mathematics:


* Geometry though Art, found at, is the work of Norman Shapiro, a teacher and artist known for his workshops on teaching art and geometry for young children. This incredibly helpful site includes lesson ideas and plans for unique hands-on art/geometry activities.


* Historicaland Geographical Connections for Tessellations and Tilings provides a good starting point for an investigation of tessellations. Available at www.mathforum. org/sum95/suzanne/historytess.html, the site includes links to Egyptian, Persian, Byzantine, Arabian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and medieval tessellations.

* The Official M. C. Escher website,, honors the work of the Dutch graphic artist (1989-1972) who became the granddaddy of tessellations. Special features include a free downloadable interactive puzzle and a virtual flight through three of Escher's most famous works.

* The World of Escher, available at, offers a gallery, store, library, newsletter, and tessellation contests.

* The Mathematical Art of M. C. Escher, found at #intro, provides another useful website for the study of Escher.

* Tessellations and Mathematics: A Logical Connection, available at, is a succinct elementary tessellation lesson from the North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts.

The Geodesic Dome

* The Buckminster Fuller Institute, available at, is inspired by the principles articulated by inventor/philosopher extraordinaire Buckminster Fuller. One of Fuller's many inventions was the geodesic dome, a three-dimensional structure based on tetrahedrons.
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Author:Walkup, Nancy
Publication:School Arts
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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