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Lesson Plans


Re: WHAT IS ART? Indeed, WHAT IS BEAUTY?

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Lawrence A. Parker/OCCTI (occti)
Tue, 19 Oct 1999 08:25:29 -0400


> Them perhaps art can be divorced from mathematics and returned to the
spirit,
> yes and to a mystery.
> Artie, who thinks it was a bad day when art married math.

But let's not throw the baby out with the bath water - there is an intimate
relationship between art and mathematics which cannot be denied: both, after
all, describe the real (and sometimes imagined) world, only by different
measuring sticks, frames of reference, what have you, and their descriptions
do overlap.

But to say that art is de-mystified through mathematics, as the original
author of the quote I posted asserts, or that art and math should be
divorced per Artie, seems to me to deny to very basic realities:

1) an understanding of mathematical principles and laws...describe such
qualities of the world as perspective, mass, volume, space, time, etc. But
just these principles alone are not creative. A similar statement would be
that grammar de-mystifies the human act of writing and communicating. Yet
it does not; the creative element is missing - the putting together of the
myriad pieces and parts.

2) art and math were not 'married'; they were born together...in the real
world. Each in their way are qualities of the world, both recognized and
codified by the human mind - our discovery of existing relationships.

Both of these points go much deeper, and I could go on much longer. But I
leave it to the other members whether or not they would like to pursue
these.

With (of course) one last point - it seems to me, and in my work I strongly
advocate, that this is the kind of discussion you ought to be having with
your students. I found that a lot of kids really enjoy sinking their teeth
into something like this - exactly because 1) they are not being TOLD what
something is, but rather being asked for their opinion, and 2) they get to
express their own points of view. And they can do this; I have done it with
1st graders. Chris Phillips has been doing it with elementary children in
San Francisco for a couple of years now.

For example, the one teacher who wanted to teach aesthetics - the
beautiful,..."What is 'Beauty'?" This is certainly one of the original
Platonic/Socratic dialogues. But many children do not have a clear,
personal conception of what Beauty is, from which to judge what is
beautiful. Without this, it is more difficult for each of us to create that
which we think is beautiful. So, let the kids discuss it. Question them on
their ideas; let them question each other; let them respond to each other.
I guarantee you that you will get and produce more out of one class of this
than any number of 'lectures' based on telling them what is beautiful. Yes,
certainly, you can point out works of art which others, or historically,
have regarded as 'beautiful'. Then have them discuss WHAT about it might be
beautiful; what elements contribute or detract; do they agree or disagree.
What elements of 'Beauty' are culture dependent and which timeless?

Try this - and please let me know what results you get.

Larry