Artist Thomas Freese defines tessellation and shows examples. The video integrates mathematics and art as the process involves using geometry, measurement, repetition, and patterning to create unusual, appealing designs.
Discuss how some shapes tessellate, while others do not. Ask students to find examples of repeated patterns in the room. Tell students that while those are repeated patterns, only some are tessellations because tessellations are a very specific kind of pattern. Define terms and determine which patterns around the room and any other they can think of are tessellations.
Connect the lesson with folk art—look at American folk art that uses tessellations such as quilts.
Tessellations have been used all around the world for hundreds of years. Have students research the history of tessellations and show examples.
M.C. Escher popularized tessellations. Have students conduct research on him and other artists who were inspired by elements of geometry/math.
Incorporate tessellations into a unit on medieval history. Find various examples of medieval art such as stained glass windows that display tessellations.
A tessellation is a pattern of one or more shapes that fit together with no gaps or overlaps. A tessellation can continue on a plane forever. In this video segment, Freese shows examples of tessellations: a checkerboard, a quilt with tessellating rectangles, and a soccer ball (3D tessellation). Freese discusses how some shapes fit together while others do not. Repetition is an important characteristic of a tessellation. An artist may use any colors in the tessellation, but the unit shape must remain the same.
Tessellations have been around for centuries and are still prevalent today. They are an intriguing combination of both math and art. The earliest tessellations found come from Islamic art around 3,000 BC. Some medieval art, such as stained glass patterns, also used tessellations. Graphic artist M.C. Escher (1898-1972) is sometimes called the “father” of modern tessellations. He produced intricate tessellations and during his life, he became obsessed with filling the plane without overlap or spaces. Escher produced linocuts, woodcuts, and mezzotints featuring impossible constructions, explorations of infinity, architecture and tessellations.
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