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Magic and Math in Art Class

October 2, 2020 | Clara Buckley

What is a tessellation? An arrangement of shapes that fit together with no gaps or overlaps.

What shapes tessellate? Squares, hexagons, triangles, and more.

Where do we see tessellations every day? Brick walls, tile floors, honeycombs, mosaics.

First we drew shapes we believed would tessellate such as squares, diamonds and hexagons. We noted what the shapes had in common. Some shapes, like triangles, had to be flipped to fit together. 

Our next step was to create a unique tessellation shape. These are irregular shapes that still tessellate, fit together with no gaps or overlaps. Our work is inspired by that of M. C. Escher, a Dutch artist famous for his impossible constructions and transformation prints. Escher’s Day and Night, 1938 print is below.

Students watched a demonstration of the translation (slide) technique in class. They then had access to written, photographic, and video directions on the technique on Google Classroom. Each child can go at their own pace, pause or review when needed, to reach the same goal, a tessellation that fits together with no gaps or overlaps.

The students are working with math concepts like shape, pattern, and geometry. The magic part of the project is when each child discovers that their shape actually tessellates!

Clara Buckley

Teacher, Rivers Class; Middle School Art

Clara Buckley’s teaching spans the ages of Mustard Seed School, from the youngest students in the preschool to students in the graduating class. She’s found many similarities between teaching three-year-olds and thirteen-year-olds!

As an art teacher who never enjoyed drawing, Ms Buckley’s hope is that each child she teaches discovers a way to create art that they enjoy, whether it be sculpture, printing, textiles, architectural drawing, or collage.

Ms. Buckley loves living in Jersey City, a place whose diversity and welcome for immigrants reflects her own family experience. When planning future travel destinations, art, food, and time with family are featured items on her list.

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