Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Geometric Patterned Art from Students at Thomas More College

We have just finished the academic year here at Thomas More College. As part of the graduation ceremonies we had an exhibition of the student art work done by the college's Guild of St Luke. Here we see geometric patterned art done by freshmen at the college.

In the spring semester the students study Euclidean geometry as part of their introduction to logic. The way that Euclid is taught generally in liberal art schools is that students are expected to memorise and on demand be able to demonstrate proofs to the professor and class in the classroom and then be able to respond to questions and discuss the proof. We do this at Thomas More College too. In addition, however, as a deepening of the learning experience we create some of the Euclidean constructions, using the traditional toools of a pair of compasses and a straight edge. From this foundation the students go on to study geometric patterned art. We look at Islamic patterns and then how Christians have incorporated these designs into churches in the past. For example at the 12th century Capella Palatine in Sicily. The first two examples shown below are exercises where I asked the students to create a simple Islamic tile design. They were required to present it as formed by strips passing over and under each other is a loose weave. I asked them to work out for themselves how a border could be incorporated into what they were doing. Two examples are shown below.

Then I set the students a project to create a design for either the floor of nave or sanctuary in a simple basilica style church. They had to use either the quincunx (four circles coming out of one) or the guilloche - a series of interconnected circles. The infill could be drawn from a series of Romanesque traditional designs that I presented to them. In accordance with the medieval style of pavement design they were encourage to piece it together in orthogonal boxes. The results are very impressive. After one semester they are producing church floor designs that would grace any church in the country and which are more involved than most churches built in the last hundred years at least. The students are Jacqueline Del Curto, Elizabeth Rochon, Devin King, Kristina Landry, Bridget Skidd, and Catherine Mazerella. Well done!

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