In front of UF’s physics building is a sculpture that embodies so much of what I have learned about support and structure and even balance in a wonderfully graphic way. I’ve admired it many times, but today for the first time I actually got out to really look at it. The sculpture is named Moses, and is by the sculptor John T. Young.
Way back when I was teaching math to students who refused to believe that math had any place in art, this is the kind of sculpture that I would have loved to have slides of. Sure, there are many artworks that show mathematical concepts, but many of them are rather simple and don’t require the calculations that a piece such as this does. The necessity of those calculations is so obvious in this piece, making it a perfect example for math in art.
Look at this! What can you not teach through this piece? Fulcrums, stress, balance, volumes, angles. It’s all here and it’s all so very visible.
Even though I no longer teach math in high school classes anymore, I still love this piece. Usually I try to contain my love of fasteners and not post too many here on my blog, but they are art here , which means everyone should appreciate their beauty!
Of course, the mathematics and the structure are not all that make this piece so wonderful. A single slab could demonstrate all that, but without the repetition of the individual components, it would lose much of its appeal. The massive slabs and blocks of granite, lined up one after another, with the steel fulcrums, and cables that almost disappear, along with the interaction between the art and its surroundings combine to make this beautiful beyond the engineering that has gone into it.