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“Mathemagical Designs” and beyond

October 30, 2009

On October 10, I attended the monthly meeting of the Potomac Fiber Arts Guild expressly so I could hear weaver Jennifer Moore give a talk on “Mathemagical Designs” – sacred geometry, the Golden Proportion, tessellations, types of symmetry especially dynamic, the Fibonacci series, and fractals.

I took 5 pages of notes, but I could only write fast enough to capture what she said (mostly), but not also the intriguing ideas whizzing around in my own mind, sparked by her words. Obviously her talk played a part in my 10.27 post, but I’d also been thinking about most of these topics for months (which is why I was so interested in seeing what she had to say).

Her talk was fabulous, btw. Highly recommend her as a lecturer – amazing array of slides depicting fiber-related examples. Many of the artists were from New Mexico, where she lives. Tapestry weavers were James Koehler, Donna Loraine Contractor, Rebecca Bluestone, and Karen Benjamin; all of NM. Weaver Bhakti Ziek of Vermont. Quilter Jinny Beyer of northern Virginia. Basket weavers were Joan Brink, Billy Rucetta (sp?), and Jan Hopkins. Also, Egyptian quilter Tariq Fardo (sp?).

An issue that repeatedly surfaces when I’m learning some new art form is that I’m irresistibly drawn to chaos and “nonlinear dynamics” and “complex adaptive systems” and “strange attractors”. In D&D terms, I’m Chaotic, but that applies to more than just morality. Which means that other artists who like their art to be stable and orderly and predictable and linear [what I tend to call “too geometric”] are people that I struggle to learn from.  I’m often amazed by their technical prowess, which I expect I will never achieve, but their art doesn’t move me. It seems stagnant and dull.

Maybe it’s being a Fire sign, or being a biologist, but I’m All About Change. My favorite word is “serendipity”, followed by “cross-fertilization”.  My favorite saying is “Environment is everything”, and what I’m always seeking is a nutrient-rich, vibrant, ever-evolving environment … because anything might happen. That’s the best part of being alive to me – that you can always be surprised.

And I guess that’s why I’ve run aground, trying to learn about all this math/symmetry/proportions stuff. It offers the promise that, once I understand it properly, I can apply it to my own ends for my own purposes. But learning about all of it from people who are coming at it from a totally different perspective – we apparently have little in the way of a common vocabulary to talk about any of it. But people in my life who aren’t designers or artists aren’t interested in any of this, so who can I talk about it with? I haven’t figured that out yet.

My spouse likes my Fibonacci series collages (well, I like them too, but they’re learning exercises, not something in me that wanted to come out), but doesn’t care for my “endometrial coastlines” and they are something in me that needs to be expressed.

I think I’ve returned full-circle to one of my enduring laments: where do I find a community of like-minded artists that I can learn from? And both offer and receive support from? Because learning from books is great, but feedback, esp articulate feedback is much more tangibly useful.


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