Monday, September 24, 2018

Crystalographic Balance Project

Our Art class unit on visual balance has included projects for symmetry, asymmetry, and radial balance. During week four we learned about crystallographic balance by studying the works of Andy Warhol. Andy was a boy from Pittsburg who ate a lot of Campbell's Soup. He believed that art could be produced for the masses without compromising quality. He took Pop Art up a notch or two when he started wearing a gray wig (in his 20's), called his his studio a factory, and made a movie of himself eating a hamburger. His iconic Campbell's Soup can paintings in 1962 were hung on a grid. His screen prints of popular icons such as Marylin Monroe or Liz Taylor, were often printed on a grid. This grid type composition is how crystallographic balance is created. It is like a tessellation or wall paper and can go on and on, the same way crystals grow.

I had my students use the iconic pop artist's medium of screen printing as well as one of his compositional devices.

Some students chose to print out faces of people found on the internet. These were cut to make paper stencils for the screen.

Others created their own shapes to print a shape several times before making a different shape for the next run of color.

One student, during a slide show, saw a painting by Juan Miro, pointed to the Calder-style mobiles hanging above us, and said, "Hey that looks like those!" That was the first time that I had noticed the relationship between the two artist's styles. Before a couple of weeks ago, I didn't even know the two of them were friends. Some of my students chose to borrow Miro's whimsical and organic style of crystallographic balance, and use lines and symbols to tie the shapes together.

This type of project is easiest when done in small groups of people who share the same ink color for each run. But even with my small classes, it was driven home that there are many ways to find balance in a work of art.

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