Art and Math

Women Making With Math

Three Dancers by Fielding Brown and Creatures of the Seven Seas by Rashmi Sunder-Raj
Three Dancers by Fielding Brown and Creatures of the Seven Seas by Rashmi Sunder-Raj, JMM January 2019


There was a wonderful symmetry to my year. My first big event of the year, which I inexplicably did not write about on these pages, was being part of a math and art exhibition at the annual Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore. I’ve actually been resistant to be part of shows for many years, but this is one that I very much wanted to be part of, so I applied, got in (YAY!), then went down to Baltimore for the huge conference, and was able to attend many sessions that had to do with art and math.

Edmund Harriss and Matt Enlow looking at work by Dan Anderson that I had brought with me to Baltimore
Edmund Harriss and Matt Enlow looking at work by Dan Anderson that I had brought with me to Baltimore.

I went to the conference in January hoping to meet people who I have become friends through our online community. Oddly, in terms of this story, Matt Enlow was the first person I got to meet in person at JMM, and I happened upon him immediately after arriving at the conference.  I’m not going to write much about this past January. Feels too late for that, but here’s my page in the catalogue from that show If you are interested, I just saw a great article about show, in which, by the way, Matt received special recognition for his work

What I do want to write about is how my year ended. Curiously, it ended with again being part of an math/art exhibition, this time at Dana Hall School in Massachusetts, which (and here’s what I couldn’t have know when I met Matt at JMM) was a show put together by Matt Enlow, who then invited me to come and spend a couple of days at the show to talk with and work with students.

Women Making With Math at Dana Hall School, Wellesley MA
Women Making With Math at Dana Hall School, Wellesley MA , postcard by Michael Frassinelli

Matt had this idea to bring women’s math/art work together at the girl’s school where he teaches. He wondered aloud about it online, and all of us women, from nearby to Malaysia, egged him on. He and Dana Hall School’s Gallery Director Michael Frassinelli, gathered and displayed work from all over. It was such a delight for me to be around these works for a couple of days. They’ve titled the show, which is up until January 8, 2020, Women Making With Math.

By Samira Mian
By Samira Mian

It was a real thrill for me to be in the same room with work that was done by the hands of people that I admire and have been influenced by. Above is a delicate work by Samira Mian, now living in England, whose work has helped me unravel the mysteries of Islamic geometry, and who I’ve corresponded with now and then.

By Clarissa Grandi
By Clarissa Grandi

Another one of my heroes and influences is Clarissa Grandi, also from England. This vibrant work of hers just lit up the room.

animated graph by Suzanne von Oy
animated graph by Suzanne von Oy

There were two-dimensional and three-dimensional works, as well as three video monitors in the room, all showing different works.  This tree by Suzanne von Oy was on one of the monitors, and is actually an animated graph; the image cycles through the seasons, with buds forming, flowers then leaves emerging, changing color, and shedding. Other animated graphs that she sent were of changing, swirling patterns. Mesmerizing.

By Laura Taalman
By Laura Taalman

Laura Taalman had numerous of these marvelous 3D printed sculptures in the show. I’ve admired Laura’s work online, and actually got to meet her this past summer. Again, such a pleasure to be in the room with these works, to see them up close, see the shadows they cast, see how different they look from different vantage points.


Quilt Detail, Kim VanderSpek
Quilt Detail, Kim VanderSpek

The geometry in this quilt by Kim VanderSpek completely surprised me. I mean, I know there’s lots of geometry in quilts, but the work in this quilt was just jaw-dropping for me. Little did I know that this would be just the tip of the iceberg of being astounded. Kim, who was my host for my two nights in the Boston area, gave me a tour of the quilts she does at home. I got to see what a person who is an accomplished mathematician and a highly skilled quilter can create. I may never recover. I hope to get back to Kim’s for a second look.

Matt Enlow
Matt Enlow, taking photos in Dana Hall School Gallery, Women Making With Math, with Kim Vanderspek’s Quilt

I’m not documenting the whole show here. I decided, for this post, just to focus on works of people that I have relationships with.  More images are on twitter, and can be found using the hashtag #WMWM.

Besides seeing the show, the other highlight of my time in Wellesley, was being able to spend time with the young women of Dana Hall.

Hands on Math/ Art
Hands on Math/ Art

I brought in a whole range of what I think of as my math toys. I brought my geometric magnets, my gyrobifastigium building blocks, origami boxes, kaleidocycles, flexagons, flipbooks, an unfolding dodecahedron and more.

More Patterns
Moire Patterns

When students came into the gallery, I captured their attention with sheets of prints that created moire patterns. Dan Anderson and I had created these together nearly 4 years ago. I’m so grateful I brought these, as they totally captivated the students. Broke the ice between me and them immediately. After moving around the moires they just naturally wanted to touch everything else that I brought.

I had three pieces in the show, which, of course, I didn’t think to take photos of. I had created an little explanatory video for Michael, the gallery director. Michael opted to show it on one of the screens, along with the pieces. Here’s the link to the video. Hopefully it will work here in WordPress.

In a way, my year started with math/art and hanging out with Matt Enlow, and ended the same way.

My house
My house

Still, there was one more bit of art that ended my year. When I arrived home from the Boston area, there was my husband, up on a ladder, illuminating our farmhouse. As happy I am to make these trips, I am so happy to be home.

Happy holidays to all.



3 thoughts on “Women Making With Math

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