Site logo

Unpacking Sullivan

Unpacking Sullivan
Stacks Image 1020

The ability for students to understand drawing as an analytical method and apply it in an exploratory and/or analytical manner is one we can all agree upon as important. The difficulty arises because a clear implementation and articulation of this idea as a technique is many times difficult, especially when dealing with a large group of students. The development of a curriculum that assists the students in understanding the investigative nature of drawings relies heavily on a process that values graphic relationships, measure and an underlying logic. Through the investigation and analysis of the ornamental designs of Louis Sullivan a concise and ordered process of investigation is achieved by the application and guidance of Sullivan’s ‘seed germ’ concept and the succinctness principle of Occam’s Razor.

Constructed as a method to introduce students to the concept of diagramming and analysis, the work produced by the students digs deeply into the ornamental work produced by Sullivan, most of which has been destroyed and lives on either in photographs or hanging forlorn in galleries. Always devoid of dimensional information the work is completely holistically constructed through the interplay of geometry and proportional relationships within the whole.  Upon removing the flora from the object a geometric composition unfolds and the task becomes finding the geometric and logical ‘seed’ from which the geometry germinates and expands. This geometric investigation empowers the students to become researchers and utilize drawing as a tool from which to uncover a more robust understanding of an object and consequently the larger world around them.