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MA-106-01 Geometry of Visual Arts

Fall 2018


Instructor Information: Bro. Daniel P. Wisniewski, O.S.F.S.

Office: Dooling Hall, Room 222-B
Phone: 610-282-1100, ext. 1269
Office Hours: Monday: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Tuesday: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. …and by appointment

Course Description: An introduction to the interrelationship between art and mathematics.

Mathematical topics include Euclidean constructions, mathematical curves, theories of perspective,
tessellations of the plane and fractals. Students will be expected to create their own art based on the
investigated mathematical principles.
NOTE: This course DOES NOT satisfy the MOT/Math general education core requirement.

Textbook Information:
Calter, Paul A. Squaring the Circle: Geometry in Art and Architecture. New York: John Wiley &
Sons, Inc., 2008. (ISBN: 978-0-470-41212-1)
Bouleau, Charles. The Painter’s Secret Geometry: A Study of Composition in Art. Reprint ed.
Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2014 [1963]. (ISBN: 978-0-486-78040-5)
Ghyka, Matila. The Geometry of Art and Life. Reprint ed. New York, NY: Dover Publications, Inc.,
1977 [1946]. (ISBN: 978-0-486-23542-4)
Pedoe, Dan. Geometry and the Visual Arts. Reprint ed. New York, NY: Dover Publications, Inc.,
1983 [1976]. (ISBN: 978-0-486-24458-7)

Classroom Etiquette: As a sign of respect to their peers and the instructor, students must turn off and
store out-of-sight cell phones and laptops during class. For the same reason, during lectures,
students may not use classroom computers. Also, students are asked not to leave the classroom
during class time, except for extreme emergencies. At the instructor’s discretion, students may be
refused re-admittance to class if either of the above behaviors persists.

NOTE: Students with documented disabilities who wish to request academic adjustments should
contact the Coordinator of Learning and Disability Services (Dooling Hall, Room 26; ext. 1453).

Methods of Instruction:
 Interactive Lecture (presentation of content/sample problems with active student
 Hands-on Activities/Projects (individual and/or group student work during and outside of
class time).

Student Learning Outcomes:

At the successful completion of this course, the student will demonstrate the following Student
Learning Outcomes:
 know and work with the following mathematical principles, concepts, and processes found in
the design and creation of art: ratio/proportion, Golden Ratio, properties of (regular)
polygons/tessellations, triangle congruence and similarity, conic sections, Platonic solids,
perspective geometry, fractals and self-similarity;
 construct geometric figures using compass and straightedge;
 constructively use Geometer’s Sketchpad and Mathematica as technological tools for
discovery, verification and design;
 identify, analyze and describe the geometric properties found in art, architecture, and nature;
 create designs which illustrate a variety of the aforementioned mathematical properties.

Attendance: Students are expected to attend all classes, and to participate fully as demonstrated by
active note-taking and attentive questions/answers. Please contact the instructor in advance via
email or voicemail if you would like to request an excused absence with a valid reason.
One point for every unexcused absence, and one point for every two late arrivals, will be deducted
from the final grade.
As a courtesy, please contact the instructor when you miss class.

Methods of Evaluation:
Exercises from the textbook and additional resources will be assigned to be handed in for a grade.
Due dates will be clearly announced. Homework assignments will not be accepted late. Each
homework assignment will be graded on a five-point scale, as follows:
5 = Complete and clear; demonstrates an excellent understanding of material
4 = Complete and demonstrates a good understanding of material
3 = Complete, some minor mistakes, and demonstrates a fair understanding
2 = Complete, but major mistakes, and demonstrates a poor understanding
1 = Complete, but many major mistakes; demonstrates a lack of understanding
0 = Incomplete (missing and/or wrong problems) and/or unsatisfactory
presentation (e.g., not stapled, ragged edges, illegible)
There will be three (3) in-class examinations during the semester.
Throughout the semester, students will be given in-class and out-of-class assignments which
consist of (computer) project activities related to the mathematical concepts discussed in lecture.
Also, reading assignments related to course topics will be given. As part of these activities and
readings, students will often write type-written reaction/description papers in response to guided
questions. This is an opportunity to engage the mathematical content in context and in a manner
separate from pencil-and-paper problem-solving, although still applying critical-thinking and
problem solving strategies. Guidelines and rubrics will be distributed separately.
A cumulative final exam is scheduled for Thursday, May 7th at 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Grading: The final course grade will be calculated as follows (class participation will determine final
grade in borderline cases):
Homework 20%
Exams (3 @ 15%) 45%
Projects/Papers 20%
Final Exam 15%
Final Grades will be assigned using the following scale:
A = 93-100 C = 73-76
A- = 90-92 C- = 70-72
B+ = 87-89 D+ = 67-69
B = 83-86 D = 60-66
B- = 80-82 F = below 60
C+ = 77-79

NOTE: Students are expected to complete an on-line course evaluation by means of the
CourseEval system.

Wednesday, January 14 Ratio/Proportion 1
Friday, January 16 (continued) 1
Monday, January 19 Sequences, Series, Means 1
Wednesday, January 21 (continued) 1
Friday, January 23 Golden Ratio 2
Monday, January 26 Fibonacci Numbers 2
Wednesday, January 28 (continued) 2
Friday, January 30 Triangles 3
Monday, February 2 Right Triangles 3
Wednesday, February 4 Triangle Congruence/Similarity 3
Friday, February 6 Isometries 3
Monday, February 9 Squares/Rectangles 4
Wednesday, February 11 Other Quadrilaterals 4
Friday, February 13 (continued) 4
Monday, February 16 Polygons 5
Wednesday, February 18 EXAM #1 ---
Friday, February 20 Pentagons/Pentagrams 5
Monday, February 23 Tilings 5
Wednesday, February 25 (continued) 5
Friday, February 27 (continued) 5
Monday, March 2 SPRING BREAK HOLIDAY ---
Wednesday, March 4 SPRING BREAK HOLIDAY ---
Friday, March 6 SPRING BREAK HOLIDAY ---
Monday, March 9 Circles 6
Wednesday, March 11 (continued) 6
Friday, March 13 More Circle Geometry 7
Monday, March 16 Squaring the Circle 8
Wednesday, March 18 (continued) 8
Friday, March 20 Spirals 9
Monday, March 23 (continued) 9
Wednesday, March 25 Polyhedra 10
Friday, March 27 Platonic Solids 10
Monday, March 30 Spheres 11
Wednesday, April 1 (continued) 11
Friday, April 3 EASTER HOLIDAY
Monday, April 6 EASTER HOLIDAY
Wednesday, April 8 Perspective Geometry 12
Friday, April 10 (continued) 12
Monday, April 13 (continued) 12
Wednesday, April 15 (continued) 12
Friday, April 17 (continued) 12
Monday, April 20 Self-Similarity 13
Wednesday, April 22 (continued) 13
Friday, April 24 Fractals & Fractal Dimension 13
Monday, April 27 (continued) 13
Wednesday, April 29 (continued) 13
Friday, May 1 EXAM #3 ---
FINAL EXAM Thursday, May 7th @ 2:30 p.m. ---