Pattern and Repetition in Art

Have a group discussion with your students about what kinds of things they saw on their Museum visit to Accidental Genius. Generate a list of people, places, objects, colors, shapes, and words that stood out to them in the artworks they saw. (You may want to use the Image Gallery on the exhibition’s minisite as a refresher.)

Scottie Wilson (Scottish, 1891–1972)
3 Vases, ca. 1955–65
Ink and crayon on board
14 15/16 × 11 1/4 in. (37.94 × 28.58 cm)
Gift of Anthony Petullo M2012.243
Photo credit: Larry Sanders

Many of the artists used pattern and repetition in their works of art. Use the same themes with your students. Make sure everyone understands the meaning of each word, and then have them choose one of the things from your list to create their own art-inspired pattern on a sheet of paper.

Hang everyone’s patterns on the walls. Talk together about similarities and differences in the patterns.

Note: Some artists represented in the exhibition that used pattern/repetition in their work are Scottie Wilson and Dwight Mackintosh. You may want to call these artists out to your students while at the Museum, or see if they can find any more.

Adaptation: For an activity focusing more on geometry, restrict your initial list to only the shapes and colors students saw. The website gallery will be particularly useful for this adaptation.