A Not So Messy Mess!

Is there anything better than letting some awesome messes just happen?

One of the Copernicus Academy activities of the week had kids taking part in what they described as “crazy art”. The activity involved a huge blank canvas on the floor, paint, and a few natural elements to include flowers, branches, and even bare feet. Kids first deconstructed flowers, stems and sticks and threw them randomly all around the big canvas. They were then encouraged to make the color combinations of their choice and drip, splatter, pour or spike paint on the canvas. The adventurous ones walked on the canvas to leave a very personal mark. The piece pictured below was created solely by 2, 3 and 4 year olds!


This activity was inspired by our personality of the week, Jackson Pollock, the abstract expressionist of the 20th century who created his own style called “drip painting”. There have been many critics of his seemingly chaotic work, however mathematicians, including Benoit Mandelbrot, have applied the mathematical concept called fractals to Pollock art identifying the “natural patterns” found in his work. An example of a fractal pattern in nature are the patterns formed by tree branches. When looking at fractals, there is no “traditional” geometrical shape (or Euclidean geometry), but there are repeating patterns that can actually be measured, (with a measure called fractal dimension)!

The goal of this activity was not to only to be creatively chaotic, but to inspire our kids to start seeing the relationship between art and patterns. Get your kids inspired by your favorite artist and share your creations with us!

For a bit more on this topic check, out http://necsi.edu/events/iccs/2002/mo20_taylorlccs2002fixed.pdf and the TED Talk “Fractals the Art of Roughness”. Note: For some teacher fun, we actually download the FracLac software and it turns out that certain sections of the piece actually observe those fractal properties!

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