Kolams: Convergence of Art and Mathematics
Presentation by Dr Sunita Vatuk will focus on kolams of Tamil Nadu and the women who make them; on the nature and doing of mathematics, and on the connection between the two. Event is free and open to the public.
Kolams are designs made by trickling powder through the fingers. They are almost exclusively made by South Indian Hindu women. Small to medium kolams are put every morning between the street and the home, and larger kolams are put on special occasions. The Tamil month of Margazhi (mid-December through mid-January) is a time when women go out of their way to create a different large kolam every day. Women have informal and formal contests during this month, and take great pride in being recognized by their community as experts.
Biography of Dr. Sunita Vatuk
Dr. Sunita Vatuk is a mathematician, math educator, former Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Fellow, and professor at the City College of New York. She spent several years in Tamil Nadu studying connections between kolams and mathematics, culminating in a research project on the mathematical thinking of women who are expert kolam-makers. She interviewed over 80 kolamexperts and south Indian mathematicians for that project, and learned hundreds of kolams. Along the way, she created many kolam-inspired activities for her own students as well as for math teachers, and has given workshops on these in art museums, universities, and schools in the U.S. and India. Her book exploring kolams and mathematics together will be published by the international-award-winning art book publisher, Tara Books, in 2016.
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Presented in Partnership with The Field Museum of Natural History