Mathematical Meditations in Beacon, New York

A survey of my Mathematically inspired paintings, drawings, videos and artist’s books is currently on view at the Roundhouse Gallery in Beacon, NY. Situated in a restored 19th century factory building, the gallery space provides ample room for a wide range of work I have completed over the past twenty years.
Included in the exhibit are my counted marking drawings. I started making these early in my career and I am still creating them with more complex algorithms.
There is also a range of work based the Chaos Theory.
A wew of my pieces from my recent “Cartesian Lace” series are also on display.
 This wonderful opportunity has offered me a chance for the first time, to present an exploration of all of the various types of my Mathematical art all in one room.
The opening last weekend was wonderful. On May 21, Dikko Faust and Ester K. Smith of Purgatory pie Press will be at the gallery for a meet and greet. Over the past years I have collaborated with them on a number of limited edition letterpress projects, that are also on display. Meet Esther and Dikko from 2PM to 6PM.
Susan Happersett

Rotational Printing by Dikko Faust at Purgatory Pie Press

Dikko Faust has been making prints using rectangular sections of grids and other geometric line patterns. By shifting the grids across the plane he has created a series of overlapping prints. Recently he has added a new twist to his process. Faust has invented a new printing tool that allows him to rotate the rectangle around a central axis point.


(A quick note about printers’ measurements: In the print studio distances are measured in picas and points. One inch is equivalent to 6 picas and 1 pica is equivalent to 12 points.)

To measure the rotation of the rectangle, Faust uses a straight edge to form a line from the bottom corner of the rectangle that is perpendicular to the horizontal  bottom edge of his press, and then measures how far from the center point to the horizontal line. The initial measurement for a straight up and down rectangle would be 12 picas from the center (the rectangle is 4″x 6″ or 24 by 36 pica).


Faust has been experimenting with what happens to different patterns throughout  the rotation process


To better explore the relationship between the grids,Faust has made series of two-color prints. He has selected only the prints that are the most visually interesting. Making consecutive prints with the number of ratio of pica differences to correlate with the Fibonacci Sequence is one technique.


The day I was in the studio, Dikko was working with a pattern he had created using airline (1/2 point) rules. He used parallel lines: there is 1 point of space between the first two lines, 2 points between the 2nd and 3rd line, then 3 points between the 3rd and 4th….. up to 6 points of space between the 6th and 7th line. Then the whole pattern repeats 12 times.


While I was at the printing studio Faust was making a single print with multiple rotational images. I took pictures throughout the process.


This is an early stage of the process: it has the original line print plus a 5 pt and 10 pt rotation clockwise and a 5pt and a 10pt rotation counter clockwise.


This is the finished print. There are 5pt, 10 pt, 15 pt, 20 pt, and 25 pt rotations in both the clockwise and counter clockwise directions. The process that Faust has developed to create these new prints is very algorithmic. It requires a commitment to experimentation trying different patterns and rotations. The outcomes are then judged on their aesthetic merit determining which prints are to be  completed works of art.

Susan Happersett


Select Fair in NYC this week

This is another big week for Art Fairs in New York. I will be at the Select Fair in Chelsea, New York with Purgatory Pie Press. It will run from Wednesday night through Sunday. If you are in the area stop by for a visit and see some new work. I will be showing some of my Mathematical Marking Drawings, Fibonacci Flowers, Spirals and Trees. Dikko Faust’s Tessellation prints will be on display, as well as his newest work (the ink is still wet) with Mathematical Moiré patterns. This is an exciting new process Faust has developed using rotating grids. It should be an exciting week!

Dikko Faust – Tesselations

Dikko Faust is the printer and co-owner of Purgatory Pie Press, a letter press publishing company in Tribeca, Manhattan that he runs together with Esther K. Smith. Faust also teaches a course on Non-Western Art History at the City University of NY. It was his experience in looking at Non-Western patterning that has lead to his recent series of prints called Tesselations. The prints are made by hand setting bits of lead to create the pattern, using only red and black ink. Each patterned print has its own set of distinct symmetries. Today, I will discuss two prints from the series.

The first one is “Tesselation 4 -Nessonis 1: Pyrassos”. Printed on the back of the card is the following descriptive text: “A serving suggestion for a Middle Neolithic stamp seal design found in three sites in Northern Greece”:

Dikko Faust - Nessonis 1: Pyrassos - Hand set block print - 2012

Dikko Faust – Nessonis 1: Pyrassos – Hand set block print – 2012

I see this print as a fragment of a wallpaper symmetry, because the repetition in the pattern is based on the symmetries between the shapes. The white figures with the black outlines that resemble a $ or an S and the 8 red squares around them have order 2 rotational symmetry. If you rotate the figure 180 degrees, you have the same figure again. Each of the $ or s shapes has glide reflection symmetry with the upside down $ or S in the rows above and beneath it. In a glide reflection symmetry we see the mirror image of the original shape, but then it is glided or moved along the plane (in this case, along the paper).

The second print is “Tesselation 6- Magnified Basketweave”.  The text on the back of the print states “aka Monk’s Cloth or Roman Square Quilt As seen on NYC sewer covers”:

Dikko Faust - Magnified Basketweave - Hand set block print - 2013

Dikko Faust – Magnified Basketweave – Hand set block print – 2013

This print is a great example of reflection symmetry. It has two lines of symmetry: one horizontal though the center, and one vertical through the center. Another interesting mathematical feature of this print is the similarity between the larger sets of black or red bars and the smaller sets. Two figures are similar if they have the same shape and are only different in size. Both the large set of bars and the small set of bars form two sides of a square:  all squares are similar. The inner rectangle of larger bars measure 5 sets by 7 sets. It requires a rectangle of 11 sets by 15 sets of the smaller squares of bars to frame the large rectangle. There is a border with the width of one small square, so after subtracting 1 set from each dimension, we have the inner rectangle of 5 by 7 surrounded by a 10 by 14 rectangle of smaller sets of bars. The ratio of the dimensions of the larger to the smaller is 2:1.

Faust has made a whole series of these striking Tesselation prints. He has been inspired by what he has encountered teaching  art history, and what he sees all around him looking at art, and in the case of Tesselation 6, the streets of New York City. The mathematics in these prints go beyond the patterns themselves and connect the viewer with distant times and cultures, and links us all in a visual aesthetic.

– Susan Happersett