Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Teaching and Learning Sciences, Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

P. Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Karen Riley

Third Advisor

Paul Michalec

Fourth Advisor

Mary Coussons-Read


Art composition, Down syndrome, Education, Mathematics, Psychophysics, Symmetry


At the John Langdon Down Foundation A.C. in the La Escuela Mexicana de Arte Down school in Mexico City D.F., Mexico, art students with Trisomy 21 display the use of a mathematical construct in the painting compositions of their artworks. The mathematical construct is a type of symmetry and it carries a positive affect. This is important because there have been no studies that have investigated the use of the symmetry in the artwork compositions of persons with Down syndrome. The geometric construction of the artwork compositions follows the artistic principle of the Rule of Three and the division of extreme and mean ratio (DEMR). The two specific geometric patterns are known as harmonic ratios and referred to as the HR-RT symmetry (harmonic ratio with Rule of Three) in this research. Painting composition is a demonstration of the intentionality of the artist, which involves sensory and cognitive processes that engage both artist and viewer. This communication is via the motoric ability of proportional gauging. The action of proportional gauging is the manner in which both the artist and viewer perceive the geometrics and aesthetics of the composition. This process is a conjoined visuospatial and bodily kinetic cortical process. A group of seven representative Master artists' paintings from the Quattrocento was the standard of HR-RT with which to compare the use of the construct in the art students' painting compositions. The Master artists' employed HR-RT as a compositional element to direct the communication of a 3-dimensional spatial representation of an aesthetic experience via a 2-dimensional venue. A novel 5-step measurement procedure identifies the mathematical construct using a geometric grid overlay on the student artworks. In 159 student artworks (out of 161), the variable use of HR-RT, similar to the Master artists, was revealed in five quantized levels. The art students demonstrated the use of the construct at a strong level 62 images (38.51%) and at the moderate level 65 images (40.37%). Twenty-five of the images were at a low level (13.04%), 7 images were an inconsistent representation (4.347%) and in 2 images the construct was not found (1.24%).

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Theresa Ferg


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

500 p.


Aesthetics, Behavioral psychology, Art education