Math and Escher and the Saint Louis University Prison Program

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Saint Louis University's Prison Program is an educational program for both inmates and staff.

Math and the Art of Escher is one of the courses offered and the work shown on this page represents some of the mathematical artwork produced during the nine week course at the ERDCC in wikipedia:Bonne Terre, Missouri.

Rosette Patterns

The Rosette patterns are finite motifs classified by the reflections they may or may not have and the order of the rotation. The rosettes created varied from the abstract to more representational. The students turned in sketches to show the design process and wrote a paper explaining the mathematics used to create the design.

Wooldridge-sketch.jpg Wooldridge-Stars.jpg
The sketches showing the design of the symmetries. Ocean Treasures by J. Wooldridge

Border Patterns

The border patterns varied from abstract to representational.


The border depicting three celtic crosses combines several mathematical examples from class. The Celtic Crosses show knot work designs. The over-under crossings tend to break symmetry. In this case there is no reflectional or rotational symmetry and what remains is the translational symmetry ("shifts") that map one cross to another. The interpretation of these crosses representing the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost is interesting in that light.


The print named Pinwheels shows an intricate design. The print was developed using grid paper. The arches were created using a collection of straight lines. Such surfaces are called ruled surfaces.


The tessellations varied from interesting designs that show a theme such as Love over Hate by C. Riley, to a design based on prints by Escher, to tessellations based on recognizable figures.

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Regelmatige Vlakverdeling, Plate I by M.C. Escher (1957) Quackers a print by J. Wooldridge

R. Scott's print Dragon Heads shows dragon heads in three colors. The black and white components are created with charcoal, and the grey heads are created by the negative space and are in the grey color of the paper used. The design shows a three fold rotation, but no reflectional symmetry.


Gallery of Rosette Designs

Gallery of Border Pattern Designs

Gallery of Wallpaper Patterns