More Art From JMM: Elizabeth Whiteley and Clayton Shonkwiler

The gallery area at JMM was full of interesting work. Here are two more excellent examples.

Elizabeth Whiteley work is often related to botanical drawing and painting. In this new work she explores the geometry of of plants, but also the symmetries of design. Through her study of Frieze Group Symmetries she is developing a series of drawings that tackles the challenges that occur at the corners of the page. A Frieze Group is the mathematical classification for 2-D patterns that repeat in only one direction. Often seen on building as border decoration. There are seven symmetry groups that relate to Frieze patterns involving combinations of rotations reflections and translations.

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The silverpoint drawing “Halesia carolina I” (above) features a central figure of three blooms surrounded by a border pattern of single blooms. This frieze pattern features reflected translations with a line of reflection at the center of each side. Whiteley’s drawings call to mind the decorative use of borders in illuminated manuscripts. By referencing the patterns of the central figure in the design element of the border, the symmetries become more connected to the central theme.

The clean lines of Clayton Shonkwiler’s digital animation “Rotation”drew my attention. Using circles and lines, the video presents undulating, almost sensual, geometric images.

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I am providing a still shot I took in the gallery, but his videos are available on Shonkwiler’s website.

Although the geometric figures, circles packed into the square grid of the video frame, are basic, the mathematics for this visual feat is quite complex (Shonkwiler utilizes a Möbius transformation of the hyperbolic plane to the Poincaré disk model). I think it is the purity of the clean lines of the circles that allow the grace of the more complicated mathematical processes to translate into a really beautiful video.

Susan Happersett

Exhibition of Mathematical Art at JMM

This year the huge Joint Mathematics Meeting was held in Atlanta Georgia with over 6,000 attendees. A section of the exhibition hall was turned into a gallery space to present art work with mathematical connections. There were also dozens of talks presented by both mathematicians and artists on the topic of Mathematical Art.

During one of these talks, Sarah Stengle presented work from her collaboration with Genevieve Gaiser Tremblay. The large series of works on paper, titled “Criterion of Yielding”, uses stereoscopic images from the 1850’s as the background for drawings of diagrams from the book “Mathematics of Plasticity” written by Rodney Hill in 1950.

The work “Criterion of Yielding, Winter Scene” features a mathematical schematic based on the deformation of metals that creates a visual bridge between the solitary figure on each side of the stereoscopic card. To enhance the feeling of antiquity, the artist uses ground peridot gemstone to make the pigment. This process gives the color a sense of stains instead of paint alluding to the paper as artifact.

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The topic of plasticity revolves around the measurement of stress, strain, bending, and yielding. All these ideas are poetically associated to the human condition, both as individuals and with regards to our interactions. The layering of mathematical material over existing images presents an unexpected dichotomy. The additional process of pigmented staining and mark making instills each work with a sense of time.

Andrew James Smith developed a unique process of drawing regular polygons to create a spiral called a Protogon. The process to form a Protogon begins with a triangle and progresses with each new polygon sharing a side with the previous polygon and having one more side.

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“Proto Pinwheel” is a digital study for a large acrylic painting and is a pigment transfer on wood. For this work Smith has started with a yellow opaque Protogon shape and then rotated 120 degrees and layered subsequent Protogon shapes in varying transparent colors. The result is a spiral pulsing with energy.

More from JMM in a few days.

Susan Happersett

“Coral Crochet Reef: Toxic Seas” at the Museum of Arts and Design

To celebrate tenth anniversary of the “Crochet Coral Reef” project The MAD museum in NYC is featuring an impressive installation. The project is the work of Margaret and Christine Wertheim through the organization they founded; The Institute for Figuring. By utilizing the properties of the crocheting to create hyperbolic surfaces, they have created textile art that represents the complicated structures of coral. The first artist to create hyperbolic forms through this method is Cornell Mathematician Daina Taimina in 1997. The Wertheims elaborated on these geometries to create the organic forms now on display.

The wall texts at the Museum offer nice explanations of Euclidean, Spherical and Hyperbolic geometry.

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Some of the sculptures in the show are monumental in size, constructed with a multitude of forms.

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“Coral Forest-Eryali” 2007-14 Christine Wertheim and Margaret Wertheim, with Shari Portet, Marianne Midelburg, Heather McCarren, Una Morrison, Evelyn Hardin, Beverly Griffith, Helle Jorgensen, Anna Mayer and Christina Simons.

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Detail

The installations are very grand and beautiful but they also address numerous topics: the mathematical properties found in marine biology and the concept of “woman’s work” through the arduous communal effort to create these impressive structures. The most important topic, however, is the urgent need to inform the public of the dire situation of the world’s coral reefs. The warming earth, combined with water pollution from plastic trash, are endangering the living reefs.

Even so, wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year!

Susan Happersett

Flat File Show at Matteawan Gallery – Beacon, NY

The Matteawan Gallery in Beacon New York is currently exhibiting the work on paper of 17 diverse artists. Two of the artists, Greg Slick and Eleanor White, use geometric themes while exploring unique textural elements.

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Untitled 10 (“Fieldwork” series), Greg Slick 2016, Acrylic on used sand paper

This composition by Greg Slick features a 2 by 4 checker board grid centered on a square background made up of four pieces of used sandpaper. The proportions for hard-edge minimal painting is inspired by the dimensions of ancient archeological sites. There is an interesting dichotomy between the spare black and white grids and the rich, almost suede-like, surfaces of the used sandpaper.

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“Untitled 2015”, Eleanor White, 2015 pulverized roses, cocoa powder and paint

Eleanor White uses pulverized rose petals and cocoa powder to explore the properties of square grid overlapping circles. This work features complete and incomplete circles of the type in which each circle has four other circles intersecting at points with equal 90 degree arc lengths. White’s use of materials underscores the organic nature of circular formations.

Although all of the artists in this show work in very different themes and media, there is an underlying similar sensibility to the work. The gallery presents a cohesive experience of thoughtful and sensitive work that is not often seen in such a large group show.

Susan Happersett

Spencer Finch at James Cohan Gallery

Spencer Finch at James Cohan

The title of Spencer Finch’s show “My business is circumference” immediately lured me into the James Cohen gallery. The phrase is a quote from a letter Emily Dickinson wrote to Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

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Once inside, I was mesmerized by the installation “Thank You, Fog” that is comprised of 85 glass panels suspended from aircraft cable in a room with grey walls. The square panels gently sway and rotate with the slight air movement in the space. The panels have various degrees of opacity and are hung at different heights and intervals.  Looking into the fog, each vantage place through out the room offers a unique view.

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Spence Finch – “Thank You, Fog” – 2016 – Installation
Pictures courtesy of the gallery and the artist

Finch’s creative practice utilizes precise tools of measure to explore natural phenomena and then creates art to express the experience. The mathematics of measuring weather for this installation required the use of light meters and anemometers.  “Thank You, Fog” juxtaposes the ephemeral qualities of fog and mist with the geometric rigidity of the square planes of glass.

Susan Happersett

Francisco Castro-Leñero at the Howard Scott Gallery

Renowned Mexican painter Francisco Castro-Leñero has a long history of abstract geometric themes. His current exhibition at the Howard Scott Gallery features a brilliant selection of painting created between 2004 and today.

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Francisco Castro-Leñero – “Mandala (tres tiempos)” – 2016
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

“Mandala (tres tiempos)”, which was painted this year, uses a 12 by 12 square grid format. The length of the side of the squares become the length of each of the radii used to create circular arcs, with the centers of the circles located at the corner of  grid squares. The arcs have measurements of 90 degrees, 180 degrees, or 270 degrees. This technique allows Castro-Leñero to create undulating ribbons. The outer rows and columns of the painting have a white background with colored arcs on the left side and black and grey arcs on the left. The 6 by 6 grid at the center of the canvas features a a black background with white and grey arcs. This center square reinforces the contrast between the linear and curvi-linear geometry, as well as positive and negative space. By mapping a vocabulary of squares and circles, and displaying a virtuosity of color Castro-Leñero’s paintings build intricate geometric structures.

Susan Happersett

Happy Halloween with Chris Watson’s Tessellation Art

For Halloween, today a contribution by Chris Watson. His latest Tesselation Art release is his Skull Series. It is a new triptych digital artwork composition inspired by M. C. Escher’s work in tessellation and infinity.
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A tessellating skull pattern is wrapped around a human skull. The eyes of the skull are scaled down versions of the entire image. This is then repeated infinitely. As TA fans will know, M. C. Escher is widely recognised as the father of tessellation. Both the theme of infinity and the use of skulls were commonly featured in his artwork. The tessellating skulls are decorated as calaveras – also known as sugar skulls. These are used in the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos). Each of the three main skulls in the triptych have a unique decoration and color scheme.
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The behind the scenes gives an animated time-lapse overview of the entire design and development process in just 3 minutes.

The write-up on this great piece of Tesselation Art can be found here. You can purchase your own day of the dead Tesselation skull print here.

Happy Halloween,

Susan Happersett

Katia Santibanez at Morgan Lehman

“The Visible and The Invisible”, Katia Santibanez’s new exhibition at the Morgan Lehman gallery, features the artist’s abstract paintings. Embracing patterns found in nature, these works incorporate a variety of geometry, symmetry, and repetition. One painting in particular, “Sleeping Memories”,  incorporates themes from two different twentieth century art movements.

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Katia Santibanez, “Sleeping Memories”, 2016
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

Using concentric squares, this work references the practices of the Hard Edge paintings of the 1960’s. The geometric abstractions of Frank Stella immediately come to mind. But this is just part of the story. Santibanez has incorporated detailed strips of patterns of flora, reminiscent of the Pattern and Decoration Movement of the 1970’s. Robert Kushner and Miriam Shapiro often incorporated floral and plant inspired patterns in their work.

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Katia Santibanez, “Sleeping Memories”, 2016 (detail)
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

“Sleeping Memories” is an excellent example of work with a Mathematical structure that has been enhanced through the use of less rigid patterning to define the geometric space.

Susan Happersett

Sara VanDerBeek at Metro Pictures

“Pieced Quits, Wrapped Forms” is Sara VanDerBeek’s current solo exhibition at Metro Pictures Gallery. There is a variety of work on display, including large abstract photographs and monochrome sculptures, all with geometric themes based of quilts, Pre-Columbian patterning, and modern textile arts.

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Sara VanDerBeek, “XXXVII”, 2013, acrylic on wood
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

The totem pole-like structure “XXXVII” is a stacked tower of eight rectangular prisms or cuboids. By painting the entire structure white, the artist allows the viewer to focus on the patterns and shadows on each side of the prisms. Each rectangular side has a width to height ratio of 2:3. Bisecting the rectangle along the diagonal, order 2 rotational symmetry is achieved and two right triangles are formed. There is a series of consecutively smaller but similar triangles, that form a step-like pattern into the prism.

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Sara VanDerBeek, “XXXVII”, 2013, acrylic on wood (detail)
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

VanDerBeek has successfully taken the geometric basis from textile patterning and distilled it to its purest form, presenting these ideas in a contemporary visual dialog.

Susan Happersett

Carmen Herrera at the Whitney

The Whitney Museum is currently presenting “Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight”. This outstanding exhibition examines work from 1948-1978. Born in Cuba and educated in Havana, New York and Paris, Herrera developed a distinctive hard-edge geometric style. This is a large show and would require more than one blog post to discuss in fill. I have decided to limit this post to paintings Herrera created in NY after she returned from studying in Paris (1952-1965).

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“Black and White”, 1962
Picture courtesy of the Whitney Museum

“Black and White” from 1962 is an excellent example from this time period. The shape of the actual canvas is an important element in the architecture of the work. By rotating the square there are no horizontal or vertical lines, this immediately disrupts the visual experience. Herrera limited her color pallet to two colors creating a dynamic tension of positive and negative space. In this work the thicker white strips are the same width as the thicker black strips but in the gallery there is an optical illusion where the white seems wider. The alternating of black and white parallel lines on the isosceles right triangles creates an order-2 rotational symmetry.

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“Horizontal”, 1965
Picture courtesy of the Whitney Museum

“Horizontal” from 1965 also features two colors and a square. This painting again relies on the shape of the canvas to define its structure, but in this case a circular format. The thin horizontal wedges amplify the push and pull of the red and blue triangles and circle segments, formed by the edge of the canvas (arc) and the sides of the squares (chords).

“Lines of Sight” is a long overdue solo museum exhibition for Carmen Herrera It is a welcome opportunity to appreciate the artist’s exciting use of geometry.

Susan Happersett