Entry installation at Design Show 2016

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ART 255 A: Making Meaning: Art and Mathematics as Embodied Practices

Meeting Time: 
MW 9:30am - 11:20am
ART 229
Joint Sections: 
MATH 180 A
Timea Tihanyi
Timea Tihanyi

Syllabus Description:

Art 255 + Math 180: Making Meaning: ART and MATHEMATICS as EMBODIED PRACTICES

MW 9:30-11:20 Room: ART227-229 


Timea Tihanyi timea@uw.edu Office: Art 209 

Jayadev Athreya jathreya@uw.edu Office: Padelford C-419


Group A: Paige Helms phelms@uw.edu

Group B: Andrew Tawfeek atawfeek@uw.edu

Office Hours:

  • Every other Thursday at 11AM in Padelford (PDL) C-113 (Paige) starting October 6th
  • Every other Monday at 12PM in Padelford (PDL) C-430 (Andrew) starting October 10th

A person in any group can go to all office hours :)


For questions about administrative and housekeeping issues (registration, absences, grade inquiries, etc.), please email both instructors.

For help with course content issues (assignments help, feedback, etc.) please email your TA first, then, if further resolution is needed, one of the instructors. 

 Office hours by appointment. Please email us and we'll respond in <24Hours. 

A circular screenprint in red and black, showing images of 4 figures around the edges and one symmetrical design in the center. Artwork by Susan Point.

Susan Point Behind Four Winds, 2012. Screenprint on paper. Photo: Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery.

Important Registration Note: This course has the identical coursework, requirements, and grading criteria, regardless of which section (ART255 or MATH180) students sign up for. 

First day note: SOA+AH+D First day attendance policy for art classes:

Instructors assume that if you are not present for roll call on the first day of a studio art class you have decided not to remain enrolled. If you miss the first day without permission, your seat becomes open and it is your responsibility to drop the course.

Open seats will be made available to unregistered student present on the first day. 

Quick link to the Course Schedule

Course Description

What does it mean to create meaning in the intersection of two disciplines? Explore, through projects of making, a timeless and dialogue between art and mathematics. We will focus our inquiry on diverse global cultural traditions of embodied making, thinking, and imagining, such as  Micronesian stick charts, Central African (Angolan) Sona drawings, Andean quipus, Coast Salish wool and basket weaving, South Asian kolam, French Baroque wallpaper designs and contemporary dance.

Our course focuses on the concept of ITERATION, creating complex PATTERNS by repetition of simple units or simple rule sets. Students will experiment with these concepts as well as with other, related, mathematical ideas, such as Euclidean and non-Euclidean space and geometry, symmetries and transformations, tilings (tessellations), various algorithmic processes. Throughout the quarter, we will work in a variety of media including 2D (lens-less photography & digital image manipulation), 3D (sculptural forms with paper and red cedar bark), and 4D (movement and time-based practices).

This is a studio course, consisting of a series of studio assignments, which are experimental, but were designed to build skills and explore mathematical ideas through making. Ideas taken from these projects may also be further developed into an expanded range of interdisciplinary projects, from textile pieces, to sculptures, performances, programming, digital or time-based media.

Student Conduct

Students are requested to play an ACTIVE, PATIENT, and GENEROUS role in their own learning and that of their classmates. We can achieve this by experimenting with unfamiliar ideas and processes, sharing out what you gained from your experimentation, and having an open attitude towards the yet-to-be-discovered.  

Being mindful of the ongoing pandemic, if you are feeling sick and/or have any symptom of Covid or the flu, please stay home and get well/get tested. If you must be absent from class, make sure to let the instructors know. We are here to be working with you on figuring out how to meet assignment check-in points and stay connected with the class, and we need you to take responsibility for your own progress through the course.

If you should find yourself falling behind, talk to us. When requesting an extension on the project, work in progress submitted to Canvas along with your specific questions (what do you need feedback on?) is necessary for receiving accommodations, such as an extension of due date. Absences put an additional burden on both you and your instructor. They should be rare and justified. 

During class times, we are going to focus on introducing new content, team work and discussion, feedback and project critiques, and guest artist workshops/ field trips. Outside of class, you may continue working with your peer group/team, getting additional feedback from your TA and instructors, and doing supplemental research and experimentation on your own.

Homeworks will help to deepen your understanding of mathematical concepts and creative problem solving/artistic practice. Expect some amount of preparation to be needed for almost every class session, and please check the Course Schedule at least a day ahead to see what needs to be done for class. Being prepared for class, including bringing your tools, materials, and work in progress, as well as submitting homework assignments to Canvas does contribute to your final grade in the class. 

Flexibility and independence comes with a great responsibility. Your charge is to get as much out of our class times together as possible and to continue exploring on your own. 

No previous art or making experience are needed for this class. Each assignment will have step-by-step technical demonstrations. We can always address individual technical questions, but do not expect a repeat of the demos, especially if you have missed class.

Work Time, Work Space, Tools and Materials

The art227-229 classroom is not open outside of class times, however, you may continue to use the IVA LINK space (art211), any other open studio space in the art building during regular business hours. If you are interested in working in the Art building outside of regular hours, you must have a confirmed building access (see Art Advising for details).

Budget the equivalent of in-class studio time  + assignment homework studio time (together appr. 8-10+ hours/week) for completing the assignments. You may find that many of the processes are quite relaxing (flow state of mind), but they also may take longer than expected. Find ways to integrate some of the making process into your daily life!

Materials and tools for practicing the basic techniques and some additional supply will be provided in class. These are covered by the course fee. Please consult the instructor about which of these can and which cannot be taken out of the classroom. 

For class, you will need a sketchbook/notebook, drawing tools (pen/pencil in a few colors would be helpful), ruler, scissors, 1/2" white masking tape and a camera. Access to Adobe Photoshop will be required for Assignment #2. You sign up for the FREE one-week trial of Adobe Creative Cloud, or (if you are planning to use the software for other projects) decide to start a monthly subscription for US$19.99/mo. See details: https://www.adobe-students.com/creativecloud/buy/students.html

Expect to spend a total of $20-40 during the quarter on projects.  You can also visit the SOA+AH+D Free Materials Library in art318. 

Field trips to the Burke Museum and to additional Seattle art and cultural venues will be offered on a few occasions throughout the quarter. This is a great way to observe works of art from close up. Be sure to bring your camera and sketch book. 



There are 3 major making assignments + a few Mathematical Explorations. Assignments are presented within learning modules complete with both making and math resources. Take full advantage of the resource pages and use them frequently. They contain all the information you will need for the project and they are also a good starting place for further research. 

Assignment #1  uses using geometry, space, some objects, the moving body, Our guest artist is dancer and choreographer Roel Seeber. Our guest expert is Holly Barker, Department of Anthropology, UW. Weeks 1-3

Assignment #2 uses symmetry and lens-less photography and Photoshop for exploring transformations and patterns. Our guest artist is mathematician Frank Farris and Vijaya Nagarajan, Depertment of Theology/Religious Studies and Program of Environmental Studies at the University of San Francisco . Weeks 4-6

Assignment #3 takes us on a journey to algorithmic processes and iterative patterning, using paper and natural red cedar and the Coast Salish traditional basket weaving technique. Our guest artists are Alison Martin (UK/IT) and Salish weaver, Jess Silvey. Weeks 7-11

Roll up your sleeve and bring your curiosity!


Course Objectives/Learning Goals

    • Develop a comfortable engagement with cross-disciplinary thinking/making practices.
    • Practice overlapping strategies (toolkits) of artistic and scientific thinking, idea generation, and problem solving.
    • Identify successful tools and methods of learning by making. Be able to relate to examples of process by various practitioners introduced in class.
    • Invent and construct alternative aesthetic, formal, and conceptual solutions appropriate for the assignment.
    • Develop strategies necessary to successfully work in teams.
    • Develop self-awareness and ability to reflect on the creative process.



Your final grade will be determined by the following:

75% (3 x 25%) on Module Assignments (See details in Assignment grading + meeting assignment check-points, and general preparedness for class)            

10% on Mathematical Explorations 

15% on Participation (active contributions made to in-class activities, such as team work, class discussions, peer and group critiques) + Professional manner (individual effort invested, commitment, progress)   


Module Assignment grading is based on the following criteria:

  • Ideation, research and thought process. Depth of understanding with mathematical concepts presented in class;
  • Design and development of form. Ability to apply to the creative challenge math concepts and art practices presented in class;
  • Development (evidence of complexity, appropriateness to assignment criteria and personal goals, considerations for materials, scale and presentation);
  • Craft: fluency with at least 2 of demonstrated techniques from each assignment;
  • Experimentation: Going beyond basic solutions, exploring further material, technical, functional and interdisciplinary potentials. Exhibiting drive and passion for the project. 

Note: Feedback and evaluation of the finished assignment is done during class presentation and critique. Scores on Canvas are a form of documenting the main points of the feedback and evaluating the project by the above listed set of criteria. It is important that you consult the rubric to see which areas need more attention, and thus, improvement, and which are those that have been most successful.

The maximum to earn on each criterium is 10pts.

9-10 points: most complete and successful in that aspect;

7-8 points: together in fundamental aspects but has other smaller issues to still resolve;

5-6 point: together in fundamental aspects but has one or two important issues to still resolve,

3-4 points: need significantly more resolution, even in the fundamentals.

0-2: completely unresolved in all aspects.


How does the final total percentage system translate into grades?


































































Lowest passing grade.




Academic failure.
No credit earned.

35 and below 


Interpretation of the Course Grading Scale:

3.9-4.0 The highest possible performance in all aspects of the course with work exemplifying exceptional quality. Exhibits outstanding creative potential.

3.5-3.8 Exhibits creative potential with superior performance in most aspects of the course; high quality in the remainder. Well prepared for subsequent courses in the field.

3.2-3.4 High performance in most aspects of the course. Very good chance of success in subsequent courses in the field. Exhibits some creative potential.

2.9-3.1 Good performance in some of the course; satisfactory performance in the remainder. Exhibits some creative potential. Good chance of success in subsequent courses in the field.

2.5-2.8 Demonstrates the minimum amount of research needed to complete the course with satisfactory performance.

2.1-2.4 Met basic requirements in most of the course, with the remainder being somewhat substandard.

2.0 and below Did not meet basic requirements for class.


Tips to Succeed in the Class

Absences and missed assignment check-points, activities, and due dates:

  • Check Canvas regularly, at least twice a week, for updates, which you'll always find in the Course Schedule
  • Stuff can happen. Communicate with the instructors early and frequently.  Don't wait until the problem gets bigger. We are here to help you navigate and successfully complete the course. 
  • Missed assignment due dates and missed assignment critiques will result in no credit for that assignment. Missed in-class activities, for example, peer reviews and discussions, do not have remote alternative, and will result in partial credit.
  • Class times that require your participation are clearly listed on the schedule. Absence from these will result in lost participation credits, negatively affecting the final grade.
  • Contact the instructors in person by the end of week 2 if you have a planned absence due to religious observation, important family or life event. Please plan ahead. Accommodations can only be made with proper notification of the instructor and by demonstrating a clear plan for making up.
  • Contact the instructors via email as soon as possible if you need to miss a class due to unforeseen emergency (including staying away due to signs of illness, possible Covid exposure, positive testing, quarantining, inclement weather commute, any sort of medical, personal or family situation). Set-up a schedule for making up of missed checkpoints, work time, and deliverables. Accommodations will only be made with proper notification and in consultation with instructors.
  • If you must be absent, follow up on Canvas on your own to review activities, demos, and assignment guidelines. We have a buddy-system for reaching out to get class notes and additional information missed; please reach out to them. Contact the instructors if you have specific questions that were not answered by the previous sources.
  • Inclement weather/snow: consult UW site for campus closures. If campus is open (classes are held) but you are unable to commute, follow instructions for unforeseen emergency. As soon as you are able to, you are required to check Canvas and UW email for instructor’s messaging with regard to schedule changes (demos, assignments, deliverables and available online resources). Notify the instructors if your commute or internet situation are expected to last past the campus  closure day/s.
  • No eating and drinking in the classroom/studio. Use designated areas for eating/drinking. 
  • Plagiarism is using the creations, ideas, words, inventions, or images of someone else in  your own work without formal acknowledgement or permission. This applies to written  papers and research as well as to art, design and architectural creations. Instances of plagiarism will be reported to Community Standards & Student Conduct (CSSC) and will result in Academic Misconduct procedure. 

Covid Precautions/In Case of Feeling Ill:

  • Face coverings are strongly recommended  in most indoor settings for the first two weeks of autumn quarter. Afterwards, face coverings are recommended or strongly recommended indoors based on COVID-19 Community Levels.
  • Sign up for Husky Coronavirus testing
  • Quarantine is no longer required after close contact with a person who has COVID-19. 
  • If you experience COVID-19 symptoms that are not attributable to another condition, DO NOT come to class, and follow instructions on the flowchart
  • GET TESTED if you have symptoms or have reasons to think that you'd been exposed. Let your instructor know is you tested positive.
  • If you are sick and/or have any symptom listed here, you MUST stay at home and get better. DO NOT come to class, but DO contact the instructor (see above for unforeseen emergencies).

In Class:

  • Always have some new development to show. Little steps go a long way. We cannot discuss your work without actually looking at some physical evidence of it. Have a dedicated sketchbook and collect ideas, research notes, reading summaries, and technical notes all in one place.
  • Prep work: research, materials, plans/mock-ups, material tests, work in progress are an essential part of the development of each project. Make sure to meet the preparation check points as listed on Canvas Schedule. Failure to do so will result in loss of points at assignment grading.
  • Participate! Add relevant content to the topical discussions and group activities. Ask questions and interact with the instructor and your peers.
  • Electronics (laptops, tablets, phones and other smart devices) are only allowed when the instructor calls for their use.  Outside of these times, turn off and put these away.
  • No headphones or earbuds in during class time.


Scheduled final exam time  Wednesday, Dec 14th 8:30-10:20pm on FINALS WEEK. No class meeting that day. This is the very final deadline for revised assignment submissions via Canvas. 


Technology Support and Resources

Building policies:  

Art building is open to the public Mon-Fri, 8am-6:20pm. 

  • Students enrolled in studio classes and accepted SoA+AH+D undergraduate majors and graduate students can have their Husky Cards programmed to access the Art Building after-hours.
  • After-hours access is permitted only through the loading dock door facing Chelan Lane, near the Jacob Lawrence Gallery. Tapping your pre-programmed Husky Card at the terminal grants entry.
  • Students may request after-hours access to the Art Building for course-related work by filling out this form. Students will need to use their UW G Suite account to access the application form. Please allow two business days after completing the form for access to  be assigned.

Renting a locker: visit the Admin Office in Room 102. Lockers are $12 a quarter (cash, check, credit card, and husky card are accepted). 

SOA+AH+D Policy: Policies 2022-23 (1).docx 


Religious Accommodations Policy:

“Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy (https://registrar.washington.edu/staffandfaculty/religious-accommodations- policy/)Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using theReligious Accommodations Request Form.”

Catalog Description: 
What does it mean to create meaning in the intersection of two disciplines? Explore, via projects of making, a continuing dialogue between art and mathematics. Focusing inquiry on diverse global cultural traditions of embodied making, thinking, and imagining, students experiment with mathematical ideas, such as geometry, symmetries, and algorithmic processes, in a variety of media including photography, textiles, and movement.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
May 20, 2022 - 9:23pm