TribLIVE

| Neighborhoods


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pictograms break down language barriers

Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News - South Allegheny art teacher Jayne Sweet shares examples of simple and patterned pictograms for one of her favorite hobbies -- painting -- with students including seventh-grader Cortney Woytovich.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News</em></div>South Allegheny art teacher Jayne Sweet shares examples of simple and patterned pictograms for one of her favorite hobbies -- painting -- with students including seventh-grader Cortney Woytovich.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News - South Allegheny seventh-graders Kennedy Lawson, left, and Payton Bradley pattern pictograms to illustrate their love of cheerleading and volleyball.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News</em></div>South Allegheny seventh-graders Kennedy Lawson, left, and Payton Bradley pattern pictograms to illustrate their love of cheerleading and volleyball.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News - South Allegheny seventh-grader Richie Shogan outlines his football pictogram, which shows two players getting ready to collide.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News</em></div>South Allegheny seventh-grader Richie Shogan outlines his football pictogram, which shows two players getting ready to collide.
By Jennifer R. Vertullo
Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

Drawing artistic attention to a part of the Olympics that often goes unnoticed, South Allegheny teacher Jayne Sweet is teaching students to make the pictograms that help athletes and spectators locate everything from games to restrooms and dining areas.

“Not everyone speaks the same language,” Sweet said. “If I speak Chinese, English or French, I can look at a picture and recognize ice skating, bobsledding or skiing. It's a universal language.”

First used in the German games of 1936, pictograms began representing sporting events in the same way travelers would recognize a restroom sign in an airport or signs for hospitals or lodging along a highway. They became standard after the Tokyo games in 1964.

Sweet's students learned these facts as they watched a short documentary segment called, “Olympic Pictograms Through the Ages.”

“The twentieth century has been the age of brands, and the Olympics have been no exception,” noted narrator Steven Heller. In addition to the traditional logo of Olympic rings, Heller explained there are trademarked posters, flags and even mascots from event to event.

South Allegheny seventh-grader Payton Bradley said she never would have noticed the change in pictograms over the years if it wouldn't have been the focus of a school project.

“We're learning about things that we didn't know were part of the Olympics,” she said. “I would have had no idea.”

Classmate Kennedy Lawson said students now have a better understanding of Olympic planning and how much of the games are immersed in a host country's culture.

“We're learning how simple shapes are used to share a message, and we're learning what the designs inside mean,” Kennedy said.

The standout artistic expressions of each Olympic event can be found in its pictograms, which allow each host nation to design logos that embrace their culture as well as the games. Students followed pictograms from their simplest forms through artistic and social trends.

The 2014 Sochi games use simple round figures whose bodies are patterned with complex Russian craft work.

“For this Olympics, they went back to the drawings used in Moscow in 1980,” Sweet said. “They used the same kind of figures, but took them from summer to winter games. They took the 16 national crafts of Russia, and out of that, they patterned a quilt.”

Sweet challenged students to design pictograms for activities they enjoy — art, music, sports, cheerleading.

“The kids have excelled at this,” Sweet said. “They've done everything from video games to football. I even have kids doing pictograms on texting.”

Artistically, Sweet encouraged students to look back on the origin of North America. They looked back in time beyond the days of the American melting pot and researched Native American customs and art.

“The same designs would appear and reappear, regardless of what craft we were looking at,” Sweet said. “Whether it was basket weaving, bead work or rugs, we would see a lot of the same geometric designs.”

Students filled their pictograms with four-color designs representative of various native tribes' work.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read McKeesport

  1. White Oak seeks funds to stabilize road
  2. Steel Valley to post teacher, administrator salaries online
  3. Duquesne Elementary School students join the ranks of junior constables
  4. Crowd demands answers from Steel Valley directors over playoff eligibility controversy
  5. Clairton City School District seeks savings in food service management
  6. McKeesport Area students share views during Black History Month panel talk
  7. Public comment policy varies in Mon Valley school districts
  8. Munhall resident pleads guilty but mentally ill for killing his mother
  9. Duquesne City School District administrators cite student progress
  10. McKeesport incident among derailments that prompt Casey to push ‘crude-by-rail’ rule
  11. Man suspected of robbing Elizabeth gas station with machete arrested