Teaching Math Through the Art of Sol LeWitt (middle)

Last changed: 05/29/2019 11:27am
6 , 7 , 8
Visual Art Math
Grade Level Program Alignment
1 60 min
In-School Short Term Residency
All year
$10 40
no Phone , Email
Extra colored pencils if needed.
Pencils, colored pencils or crayons, rulers, erasers, and pc projector
general classroom setup
I can more fully understand and use mathematical vocabulary and concepts including geometry, algebraic patterns, numerical relationships, and measurement. I can follow a set of pre-written instructions to reinforce these mathematical concepts. I can create my own instructions using these mathematical skills. I can use various tools (rulers, levels, tape measures) to measure, align, or orient their work.
Sol LeWitt was a Connecticut artist famous for a series of abstract wall drawings based on his theory of conceptual art. Like the composer of a musical score, LeWitt wrote the instructions for his paintings and let others actually create the paintings. These abstract wall drawings often included geometric shapes, algebraic patterns, and mathematical combinations that can be used as a springboard for teaching math.

Students will begin by analyzing LeWitt’s approach to art, comparing his instructions to his finished wall painting to better understand the connections between language, math and art. Using what they have learned, they will create their own mathematical drawing and translate the math behind the drawing into a set of written instructions to be interpreted by another student. This entire process provides a hands-on, in-depth approach to better understanding and applying mathematical vocabulary and models of algebraic thinking.

On day one, students will view LeWitt artwork and the instructions. They will take on the role of a LeWitt draftsman and follow a series of instructions specifically tied to their mathematical curriculum. Through this hands-on approach, students will demonstrate their understanding of mathematical vocabulary and their ability to follow a set of step-by-step detailed instructions accurately. Students will be able to compare and contrast the resulting drawings to determine why differences occur and which types of interpretations are consistent with the instructions and which are not.

On day two, students will use Sol LeWitt’s approach to create their own drawings and instructions. Students then swap instructions and try to create a drawing from the directions alone. This often requires some collaboration and modification with the original creator to clarify and adjust the written instructions. The original and re-created drawings will be compared and differences and reasons behind these differences discussed.

Grade 6

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.G.A.3 Draw polygons in the coordinate plane given coordinates for the vertices; use coordinates to find the length of a side joining points with the same first coordinate or the same second coordinate. Apply these techniques in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems.
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.3.D Use ratio reasoning to convert measurement units; manipulate and transform units appropriately when multiplying or dividing quantities.
Visual Arts: Creating: Anchor Standard #1. Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work. Combine concepts collaboratively to generate innovative ideas for creating art.
Visual Arts: Responding: Anchor Standard #7. Perceive and analyze artistic work. Analyze ways that visual components and cultural associations suggested by images influence ideas, emotions, and actions.

Grade 7

Grade 7: Mathematics: Ratios & Proportional Relationships: Analyze proportional relationships and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems: Cluster #2: Recognize and represent proportional relationships between quantities.
Grade 7: Mathematics: Geometry: Draw construct, and describe geometrical figures and describe the relationships between them: Cluster # 2: Draw (freehand, with ruler and protractor, and with technology) geometric shapes with given conditions.
Grade 7: Visual Arts: Creating: Anchor Standard #1. Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work. Develop criteria to guide making a work of art or design to meet an identified goal.
Grade 7: Visual Arts: Responding: Anchor Standard #7. Perceive and analyze artistic work. Interpret art by analyzing art-making approaches, the characteristics of form and structure, relevant contextual information, subject matter, and use of media to identify ideas and mood conveyed.

Grade 8

Grade 8: Mathematics: Functions: Define, evaluate, and compare functions: Cluster # 3: Interpret the equation y = mx + b as defining a linear function, whose graph is a straight line
Grade 8: Mathematics: Geometry: Understand congruence and similarity using physical models, transparencies, or geometry software: Cluster # 1: Verify experimentally the properties of rotations, reflections, and translations
Grade 8: Visual Arts: Creating: Anchor Standard #1. Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work. Document early stages of the creative process visually and/or verbally in traditional or new media.
Grade 8: Visual Arts: Responding: Anchor Standard #7. Perceive and analyze artistic work. Compare and contrast contexts and media in which viewers encounter images that influence ideas, emotions, and actions.
Get to Know Our Arts Provider:

Beth Klingher