Art and Math may at first seem to be very different things but actually, there is a lot of math involved in art, from basic things like measuring and lines, to the intricacies of art that can often be described using math. Whether they realize it or not, many artists use math to create a certain perception for their audience, for example, when they want to create perspectives
People who enjoy math tend to look for mathematics in art. They want to see the patterns and angles and lines of perspective. There are even artists like M.C. Escher who appeal to mathematicians very much. While M.C. Escher is widely known for creating mind-bending optical illusions that so many enjoy, today we met someone who also uses mathematics in art, but a little differently.
Carl Gombert met with us and showed us some of his work. He has an impressive stamp collection which he uses to create some very interesting pieces of art with lots of different kinds of symmetry. In another kind of work, he starts with just a few lines on a page, but ends up creating an optical illusion. When looking at the picture, the mind sees circles, and curves when in reality there are none on the page. This happens because our minds want to sort and focus things. For example, he drew four pac men whose open mouths formed an incomplete square. Everyone in the class saw a square. Why? Our brains want to complete the square!
After learning about how Gombert creates these pieces we got to try it out for ourselves. Some people decided to use pen and a straight edge, while others opted for the stamps. I tried both. I can honestly say it is not as easy as it looks. The lines, if not evenly spaced out, will not create the optical illusion but it is fun to try! Some other people succeeded in creating an illusion. We found that the stamps are also capable of creating shapes that I didn’t know they could. I used a Hershey Kiss and star stamps and was able to create an intricate swirl that had a great deal of symmetry.
Even though we are STEM majors, we need to keep an open mind to all the different applications of our fields. Who knew there could be a way to link Math and Art? To see more of Carl Gombert’s work, go to www.carlgombert.com.
Submitted by Cheyenne Gies, Scots Science Scholar Maryville College Class of 2017