Fall Geometry

Danny Stock

In this story:

  • Mandala in Autumn Land Art
  • Rangoli for Diwali
  • Measuring for safety

Mandala in Autumn Land Art

The Mandala Project in High School Foundation Ceramics & Sculpture began with an introduction to the concept of earthworks, human-made constructions that modify the land contour, some of which have existed since the dawn of time. From as far back as the Neolithic period, archaeologists have documented humans’ use of the raw materials of the earth to create sculptures. A 2,000-year-old geoglyph was unearthed in Peru, for example, and appears to depict a massive cat. Fast forward to 1970, when Robert Smithson set his modern-day earthwork Spiral Jetty into the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Most recently, artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, James Brunt, and Michael Grab have established a movement tied to awareness and celebration of our natural environment. This movement has come to be known as Land Art. Focusing people's attention on the inherent beauty and symmetry that is abundant in nature, it has democratized artmaking—the materials are free. 

High School art teacher Nick Ryan has emphasized the importance of experimentation when partaking in this global art movement. His classes selected mandalas as the format for this project to give themselves a framework to explore how geometry and the principles of art and design intersect. Nick said, “The meditative and spiritual components inherent in the mandala complemented our objective of raising consciousness of and respect for the environment. It struck me as a wonderful antidote to the intrusion of technology into our lives during the pandemic.” Nick hopes the mandalas will be a visual meditation for community members who view them. More importantly, perhaps, they have allowed students to reconnect with nature and access the natural palette of colors, textures, and forms that surround us, particularly in this beautiful season. 

View selected mandala >>

Rangoli for Diwali

In Lower School, students explored the bright geometric patterns of rangoli as part of their learning about—and celebration of—Diwali. Rangoli, which originated on the Indian subcontinent, are typically created on the ground using natural materials, including colored sand or rice, flower petals, quartz powder, or chalk. However, during a global pandemic, Lower School teachers have gotten creative. While teachers have encouraged students to create rangoli on their own with chalk sent home from school, they also have the option of creating them in their digital journaling app. Several 1st and 4th grade student-made rangoli can be seen below.

Also, on the occasion of Diwali, 1st grade teachers sent small packets of clay home for students to form their own diyas. They provided video directions for making rangoli, recorded themselves reading an ebook about the holiday, and shared videos made by families from 1st grade who celebrate Diwali, including Rangoli with Samyuktha and Rangoli with Niam.

Wishing light and joy to all in our community and beyond who celebrate Diwali!

Measuring for safety

Geometry is also keeping us safe this year. Fourth graders spent last week busily measuring commonly traveled spaces in the school and creating additional safety signage. They trained their estimation skills as they developed a working understanding of, “How long is six feet?” They measured along the slope of the stairs to help us stay six feet apart even while traveling between floors in our new building. They explored various non-standard measuring aids, including steps, carpet sections, sign-lengths, water fountains, and more. Using these items as reference points, students will develop a more tangible understanding of proper physical distance. While GDS Hoppers like to estimate six feet to be approximately 36 grasshoppers long, others rely on other more immediate reference points. Stay #HopperSafe.