Friday, February 27, 2015

symmetry and form

Our students at Clear Spring are studying ancient history, and are now working through the Greek and Roman empires. In art classes, the students were cutting the shapes of amphora from brown paper, and the masks representing comedy and tragedy, and placing them on a background page. These were excellent projects illustrating their study of civilizations, integrating them with art, and using folded paper to create symmetrical forms, much like those we discover in an examination of all life.

We put nearly all studies into the realm of reading, and as important as reading is, the arts, are also. In the arts, the eyes are led to examine, and the hands led to create.

Barbara has finished her first round in the translation of I Sløjdsagen Et Inlæg. The last section  of Christian Jacobsen's book has to do with beauty, the attractiveness of form, how it is perceived and how it is made. This section comes as a bit of a surprise to me, as who in schools today would take an interest in such things outside of art classes?

And yet, in the training of the eye, to perceive, beauty is discovered and that process is important for all scholars.

I am reminded of the place where I was living when my wife and I first met, and married. I lived in a small log cabin with a waterfall outside my bedroom window. The hollow (valley) was deep with high ridges on each side, and the trees towered overhead. The patterns of the branches were arranged so that each tree gave space to the other and by looking up, I could sense the natural harmony between each one and its neighbors. In this case, as always, it could be said that beauty was in the eye of the beholder, but it could also be said that the the beauty was also a real thing available in that interrelationship of form for the eye to behold.

In the arts (and in wood shop) the student becomes an investigator of form and a participant in the interrelationship between form, beauty, and functionality. And in becoming so, the student adopts a more thorough role in life itself.

I on the other hand, have become a slave of the machine. The 3-D printer at school does not want to just print a simple hand. As it goes through the steps, one piece or another will become loose from the print platform, turning the whole of it into a snarl of spewed fiber. At first you will want to watch it at work, because it is fascinating. Then you will become bored with it, and when you are not watching, it will mess up and there will be nothing that you can do about it, except stop and start over.

We have, however, printed parts for a third hand, and I am training my students for the next steps.

Make, fix and create...

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