Christopher Castle



Mapping Environments, Berkeley, California                                      Christopher Castle     May 2010



The Mapping Environments project evolved from a collaboration inspired by the idea of combining mathematics and art in a way that would enliven both mathematics and art aspects of the learning process for middle school students.


The idea of focusing on scale was developed in discussions between Kala Art Institute artist in the schools Christopher Castle and Bay Area Math Project teachers Jaine Kopp and Julie McNamara. The project was supported by a grant to Kala from the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Fund.


A series of sessions was held with 6th grade classes at the three Berkeley public middle schools, Willard, Longfellow and Martin Luther King. The classes of math teachers Ryan Chin and Robert MacCarthy at Willard, Peter Gidlund at Longfellow, and Roald Dejean at Martin Luther King participated with much enthusiasm. The project was specially devised to include material that fulfilled California 6th grade math and art standards.


The Math sessions

Starting with the mathematics lesson taught by Jaine Kopp and Julie McNamara the students learned about scale through colorful demonstrations making use of doll’s house models with conflicting scales: large tables with small chairs for example. They then measured their school class room and drew a scaled plan placing the furniture on the plan according to their survey.


The Art sessions:

School Plan

In the art sessions that followed, the students extended experience with scale drawing to a plan of the school itself. Each student was provided with a full plan of the school showing the buildings and open spaces. The plan was overlaid with a grid and each student received an enlarged copy of one square.


Next, the students were asked to find the place in the school that their square represented. They were to go to that area and make notes about aspects of what they saw there. A questionnaire suggested various things they would record with drawing or written notes. They then returned to the classroom to make a painting based on their observations. The paintings were later assembled to create the illuminated plans of the schools that we see in the exhibit.


Berkeley Map

The second part of the art project involved further expanding the students’ sense of scale to a map of a section of Berkeley. The three schools each had a map that included their school location. In a similar process students took a detailed square from the gridded map. This time students explored the image of the street map with printmaking. Monotype prints were created then the parts were reassembled to create the full map. Each of the three schools maps links to the other to create a map of the whole of Berkeley. The three panels show the results from this collaborative process.

website copyright © 2015 Christopher Castle. All rights reserved.

Kala Art Institute web site: