Friday, December 10, 2010

teaching students about linguistic and visual patterns

The literacy and visual examples shown in this blog piece all rely on patterns and spatial relationships for impact. Professor Roy R. Behrens, in his essay “How Form Functions,” has said, “literary uses of repetition and variation (similarity and dissimilarity) provide us with interesting parallels to the use of unit-forming factors in the visual arts.” Unit-forming factors (good Gestalt) which includes: similarity, proximity, continuity, and closure are things we've studied in class that give students a vocabulary to discuss how their work works.

The Herman Miller Furniture Company
Summer Picnic Poster [1970]
Sweet Corn Festival
Stephen Frykholm (American, born 1942) and Philip Mitchell
Silkscreen with lacquer finish, 39 1/4 x 25" (99.7 x 63.5 cm).

This is the first poster in the long running series… apparently Steve printed the first posters in his basement. Image from MoMA. At Dordt, one of the exhibitions we’re planning for next year will be a show of the first twenty Herman Miller Summer Picnic Posters designed by Steve Frykholm.

Listen! Listen!
A children’s book by Ann Rand and illustrated by Paul Rand
Copyright ©1970 Harcourt, Brace & World Book illustrated is from the Dordt College Library’s Teacher Resource Center

Text: Rrrroooaaarrrrr! 12–13.

Text: Listen…

It’s not too polite a thing,
But if you’ll bring
Your ear up close,
You can hear the breakfast noise
I like most.
It’s the crunch crunch
Of buttered toast.

Interestingly, Behrens on occasion mentions Alfred North Whitehead who wrote in Principles of Natural Knowledge, “The essence of rhythm is the fusion of sameness and novelty; so the whole never loses the essential unity of the pattern, while the parts exhibit the contrast arising from the novelty of their detail.”

Particularly for art and design students, recognizing patterns is a key to discernment in visual thinking. Whether the patterns are imagined and developed by human beings or are found in the world created by God, perceiving the patterns changes our vision and we begin to see the world in a new way — as wonderful correlations.

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