I work for a school that believes in the use of arts infusion. As a sixth-grade digital art and technology teacher, I am always looking for new ways to develop interesting graphics projects for students to work on in the computer lab. Engaging students in critical thinking and artistic endeavors, helps to demystify some of the learning process, while encouraging the use of creativity.
The Vedic square is a pattern created by the use of number sequences. The patterns show an abstract form in design and can be explored as a symmetrical piece of art.
THE EXERCISE, STEP-BY-STEP
1. Students fill in the multiplication table grid, 1 through 9.
2. Students reduce double-digit numbers to a single digit by adding the numbers in the sum. Example: If 9×9=81, add the numbers in the sum (8+1), and put the sum of 9 in that square.
If the new sum is also double-digit, add those numbers. Example: 7×8=56; 5+6=11; 1+1=2. Place the number 2 in that square.
3. Students assign a color to each number. For example: All number 1 boxes may be blue, number 2 boxes may be green, and so on. Students then proceed to fill in the squares with the assigned colors they have to each number (see illustration below).
4. Students have now created one quarter of the Vedic square. They now need to create a copy of their art and reflect their colored patterned squares on a vertical axis (my graphic students do this in Adobe Illustrator). This creates a mirror image of the first grid. Next, select both squares and make a copy of them, and rotate them 180° to complete the Vedic square.
ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS IN BIG IDEAS
• Critical Thinking and Reflection: How can art be used for multiple design purposes? For example: traditionally patterns can be seen on tile walls of mosques. What are some other uses for repetitive designs? Think about things you may see in your community such as a stained-glass window design or an advertisement. How many uses can you think of for your design?
Students will share their designs with other students and discuss ideas. Allow students to add a personal spin to their artistic creation, maybe it reminds them of a quilt their grandmother made, pursue questions, for example; ask how do feelings evoke responses to art?
• Historical and Global Connection: Discuss the origins of Islamic art, and talk about similarities and differences in art from various cultures around the world.
• Innovation, Technology and the Future: Historically the Vedic square was not produced on the computer, how has technology changed the way art is done and how do you think technology has affected other areas of art?
• Organizational Structure: The Vedic square is an organized structure of small geometric squares. Think about and discuss how the combination of many Vedic squares may be used to create larger patterns for more monumental art forms. Give examples: What inspired you to choose the colors you did in your design? How would you change it if you were to do the design again?
• Technical Skills and Processes: Although this is a technical design and specific colors are assigned to specific numbers, the patterns created are all unique and original. How can your technical skills be used to enhance your artistic process? Can patterns be used in the squares in place of solid colors, how about the use of gradients, how does this change your art?
OBSERVATIONS: My students worked hard on making sure their math was correct before assigning colors to the numbers. This required a lot of focus. Getting their squares to line up neatly came easily to some, but was more challenging for others. In some cases, extending time and letting some students work in groups was helpful.
Dividing up the process gave everyone a chance to participate. For example, some students were better at math, some excelled at technical computer skills, while others had a good grasp of color theory.
This is not a time-sensitive lesson and can be used at any time during the school year. The students loved having their finished work displayed at school and marveled at the number of color associations that were reflected in their finished art.
This project has the ease and flexibly to work even without the use of computers. Make copies of the templates provided and have your students color, paint or paste paper color squares right onto the template. Be creative: the objects used to fill the squares may consist of cut paper, fabric, foil or even ribbon.
Higher-level learners may want to transfer their images onto fabric to create a classroom quilt or a sewn paper mural of collaborative student work. Accordion-folded book designs could include the Vedic square examples with a historical time-line, integrating math, history and language arts. Possibilities are endless and so is the fun of experimentation and learning, while infusing the arts into other subjects.
Middle school students will …
• strengthen math skills.
• learn historical origins of the Vedic square.
• create beautiful, bold symmetrically balanced patterned designs.
• gain technical skills and visual awareness.
NATIONAL ART STANDARDS
• CREATING: Conceiving and developing new color patterns for symmetrical designs.
• RESPONDING: Understanding and evaluating color theory.
• CONNECTING: Relating artistic ideas and work with external context.
• Templates and handouts
• Computers, Adobe Illustrator software, color printer
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Debra Cline is a digital art and technology instructor and department chair at Manatee School For the Arts, Palmetto, Fla.
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