Art With a Mathematical Bent at the Japanese Friendship Garden

I recently had the honor of having my mathematical art exhibited in a non-mathematical setting for the first time. The venue was the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego, CA, where an exhibit was held for works created during the time of Covid in an effort to heal through art. The title of the exhibit was IYASI 癒し / HEALING: WHAT DID YOU CREATE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS?! My contribution was a model of the Campanus’ Sphere made of Tetra Paks.

The story of how this piece was created during the pandemic can be found in my artist’s statement, and my previous blog discusses some of the history of the Campanus’ Sphere in art and mathematics. If your are curious about the medium of Tetra Paks, you can read more about it here.

I was delighted to find more works in the exhibit with a mathematical bent. First, there were the miniatures called retablos by artist Paul Hobson. These retablos are not quite fully 3D models in that they give a somewhat flattened view of reality. I found the partial use of perspective particularly charming.

Note how the ladder tapers toward the top, acting as if it’s a drawing of a ladder. The windows do not have right angles, but represent windows with right angles. The whole effect seems to be a representation in some space between 2 and 3 dimensions.

There was also the beautiful stole knitted by Calandra Rothrock.

The stole starts out with one tessellation (left, brown) and then transitions to a different one (right, green). This reminds me of Escher’s Metamorphosis prints.

All these works were created during an extraordinarily difficult time for the entire world. I was glad to find other people who found solace in some sort of mathematical expression, whether it was playing with perspective or tessellations. In some way, the elegant principles of mathematics were soothing for all of us.

I will be be talking about my piece and other unexpected positive outcomes of the Covid pandemic at the Women in Tech conference on June 8, 2021.

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