String art event combines math and creativity

Zoe Morgan/Town Crier
Sophia Yurchenko creates a “string art” piece at Grant Park Thursday as part of a Los Altos Public Arts Commission activity.

Art and math are often viewed as two separate domains, with little overlap. However, a Los Altos Public Arts Commission event last week aimed to disprove that stereotype.

The commission organized a “string art” activity before last Thursday’s summer concert at Grant Park. Local high school volunteers showed younger kids how to create art by connecting wooden stakes in a circle with multicolored yarn and electrical tape.

“It’s just a quick, fun, interactive thing that stimulates their brains before the concert,” said Los Altos High School sophomore Diya Gupta.

The student volunteers used protractors to ensure that the stakes were evenly spaced in the circle, which is necessary to guarantee the resulting string art is symmetrical.

Yarn or colored tape is then looped around the stakes in repeating patterns. For example, every fifth stake might be used.

Commissioner Hilary King originally found the idea for a string art project online and her fellow commissioners agreed that it would make a good public art activity.

“We thought it would be great to bring it to the Los Altos community as a fun summer event, because it … merges math, art and making,” Commissioner Anita Wu said.

Particularly in tech-heavy Silicon Valley, Wu said it was relevant to demonstrate how easy-to-grasp math concepts can be used to create works of art.

For 11th-grade volunteer Sophia Yurchenko, part of the fun was showing kids how math can be used in everyday life, not only in class.

“It shows kids that math isn’t just on paper,” Yurchenko said. “You can use it to do really cool things.”

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