WSA senior explores math topic with a collaborative artwork.
Students in Ben Owen’s IB Math Applications & Interpretations class do an assignment of math exploration, connecting a specific mathematical topic to something that is personally interesting or relevant. Owen knew that for one of his seniors this year, Chayton Martinez, the exploration should be in art, and guided him to a topic that lent itself to an artistic interpretation, Voronoi diagrams. Sara Adams, WSA’s art teacher, helped Chayton figure out the practicalities of making his vision come to be a physical artwork. Chayton, for his part, wanted to have one last collaboration with his fellow seniors, and so made sure that everyone had a chance to help with the painting of the 4’ x 6’ acrylic on canvas work, Planes of Existence.
The artwork was on the amphitheater stage on May 26 for the Declaration Day assembly, then was moved to the Indianola Clubhouse for the commencement ceremony the next day. Planes of Existence is back on the West Sound Academy campus where it was created, to be hung on display for the enjoyment of future WSA students.
The three principal collaborators on Planes of Existence each wrote an artist's statement.
Chayton Martinez- Primary Artist, Class of 2023
My final year at West Sound Academy has caused me to learn a lot about myself and to step out of my comfort zone to try something new. When I was asked about whether or not I wanted to use my style of Voronoi diagram artwork for a larger project, I decided to take the opportunity to put everything I have learned as an artist and a student to the test in something that was both new and familiar to me at the same time.
But aside from that, another element I wanted to incorporate into my artwork was finding a way to allow my fellow classmates to collaborate with its creation in some way. In the end, I think what I came up with was pretty impressive and I’m truly thankful for being able to work on this amazing piece. I can’t thank everyone enough for helping me along the way but I am proud that I was able to make something that would help me end my school year on a high note.
Ben Owen - Math Teacher
When students begin their math exploration, one of my first jobs is to help them connect mathematics to something else that they find interesting. For Chayton, it was clear that the other piece of the exploration was his love of art. Next, he had to find a connection between art and a specific mathematical topic that we had studied.
Voronoi diagrams are a mathematical tool for dividing a map into regions based on the placement of certain points. A quick internet search revealed that using these diagrams to create art is an area that is mostly unexplored, so Chayton would have a lot of freedom to create something new.
As a math teacher, I see Voronoi diagrams as maps of service areas such as school boundaries, delivery zones, or emergency response. By stripping away those contexts, Chayton revealed the beauty of the underlying patterns and symmetries, enhancing them through his use of color. Most math explorations are written papers, but I felt that Chayton’s innovative work in this field called for a different form of expression.
Sara Adams - Art Teacher
I felt great excitement when I found out about the idea Chayton had to create artwork around his Senior Math Paper. The scope was large and it created an excellent collaboration opportunity. I had an amazing talking point with younger students who saw the development of the piece as Chayton and I worked on it.
Together, all the steps of preparing the canvas, projecting the final diagram, tracing, taping, and finally painting were a multi-day (week) event. Not to mention setting up the uninterrupted space to create in my very busy classroom. Layer upon layer of paint took the concept from an idea to a physical artwork.
The hardest part for me was answering the question from students, "What is this for?" My answer was, "It's a Senior's math paper. He did his paper on the Voronoi Diagram." Voronoi is easier written than said! I butchered the word every time.