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Go Bananas: Scale and proportion in contemporary art
Copyright 2010-2011
Kala Art Institute
This project is a Berkeley Unified School District-wide middle school math-art integration project funded by UC Berkeley Chancellor's Community Partnership Fund and Open Circle Foundation with support from Friends of King Park.

Go Bananas: Scale and Proportion in Contemporary Art, is an innovative project which explores the relationships between art and math. During January and February, 2011, it was taught to over 500 students and six teachers at three Berkeley middle schools – Longfellow, King and Willard.

Now in our second year of programming, Kala Art Institute Artists-in-Schools program (AIS) continues our partnership with the Bay Area Mathematics Project (BAMP) to offer an arts-integrated learning experience to middle school students in Berkeley.

Working in collaboration, professional math coaches and teaching artists developed the curriculum and lead innovative workshops which explore the relationships between visual art and math. One objective of this project is to support standards-based mathematics and visual arts curriculum and to provide real world applications of both.

Most schools received one 90-minute math session and two 90-minute art sessions:

In the math session, students solved real-world and mathematical problems involving area, volume and surface area of 2D and 3D objects composed of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, and cubes. Students learned about nets (flattened geometric shapes) and assembled 3D paper cubes from 2D patterns.

The art portion of the project taught students to explore and understand the techniques for translating a 3D physical object into both life-size (1:1) and large-scale (2:1) 3D paper sculptures using 2D patterns and materials. Students each produced a life size 1:1 paper cardboard sculpture of a banana, created from a pattern taken from a banana peel.

Students were also introduced to the works of major contemporary artists and designers who employ similar techniques to create their art. Then through drawing, pattern making and experimenting with scale, students were taught how to translate their own object.

Kala Art Institute believes the arts play a fundamental role in a healthy and thriving society. By providing arts education in Berkeley public schools, Kala’s Artists-in-Schools (AIS) program gives young people opportunities to learn artistic skills, express themselves creatively, and find connections among art, mathematics, science, cultural history and the environment.

Currently only one of three Berkeley Middle Schools (Longfellow) offers art classes to students in the sixth grade, and it is a short term elective. Next year it is likely that art could be eliminated completely from grade six course offerings. Our project aims to bridge this gap in art education and utilize the problem solving skills inherent in visual thinking to engage students who may also be struggling in mathematics.