Math Sculptor Lends Fun to Building on Return Visit to Albion

Albion College: George Hart Sculpture

Albion College's Mathematics and Computer Science Department welcomed back George Hart, geometric sculptor and creator of the Comet! art installation to the Science Center Atrium Nov. 7-8 for a two-day colloquium, "Symmetry + Cardboard = Sculpture."

Dave Reimann, associate professor of mathematics, spoke with Hart at a summer conference and invited him back to campus for another project during the department’s colloquium series.

Reimann contacted the faculty that originally helped with Hart’s Comet! sculpture build in 2008, and asked the faculty to invite their students.

Math, chemistry, and art students – along with anyone who happened to pass by the Science Complex – learned how to apply mathematics to create a work of art, Reimann says.

Albion College: George Hart Sculpture

Piece by piece, and using leftover yard signs from professor of chemistry Andy French’s (above right, with Hart) mayoral campaign, the students assembled the spherical Running For Office Twenty Twelve sculpture using Hart’s geometry-based schematics.

“I enjoy showing people a different side of mathematics,” Hart says. “It is always fun to build something with a group of people.”

Albion College: George Hart Sculpture

“It takes a lot of planning ahead of time to create these sculptures, and even with all the planning we weren't really sure it was going to work,” says Paxton Mueller, ’15 (above), a math and economics major. “It also takes a lot of work and hands to build.”

Hart was curious to see if the yard signs would work, having never used corrugated plastic before. Reimann says the original plan was to paint the yard signs, but they couldn’t find a paint that would stick to the plastic.

Albion College: George Hart Sculpture

"Overall, I think everyone gained a better appreciation for the visual beauty of mathematics,” Reimann (above) says. “They saw a novel application of mathematics, and experienced first-hand some of the fun one can have with mathematics.”

Albion College: George Hart Sculpture

Hart stayed on to teach students, faculty, and staff how to build geometric sculptures using playing cards.

“It was so much fun. It was like one of those tests to see how well you can work with others and follow directions, and we definitely all passed,” says Mueller.