Alma’s Arithmetic

(A tribute to Alma Buscher, Bauhaus 1924)

There is a woeful lack of visual literacy today, particularly within the area of public education. Drastic cuts in state educational budgets seem to strike the visual and performing arts first and foremost, thus depriving children of critical communication skills.

The piece submitted is, on the surface, a non-verbal, visual counting game for young children. It consists of nine images arranged in three rows. The first square, in the upper left corner, has one shape and one color. It progresses so that the center square contains five shapes and five colors. The number of shapes and colors then decreases, so that in the lower right square there is again only one shape and one color, but the shapes are now partially hidden, and the foreground and background have switched places.

The piece is not only about mere counting, however. It also attempts to introduce viewers, young and old, to the concepts of form, function, and visual organization taught in the Bauhaus School, an art school founded in Germany in 1919 and closed by the Nazis in 1933. All of the images are constructed entirely in 3D computer graphics and replicate a set of children’s toy blocks designed in 1924 by Alma Buscher. She was a pioneering instructor who worked in the Bauhaus woodworking shop, and was particularly interested in art education for children. The piece incorporates the 9 square grid which was the Bauhaus’s basic format for problem solving in visualcommunication and design.


Each Image 14"x14"

(Click an image to enlarge.)