Exhibit showcases work of CR art faculty

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Pictured is Shannon Sullivan’s “Folded Topography 3.” (Submitted)Pictured is Shannon Sullivan’s “Folded Topography 3.” (Submitted)

By THE TIMES-STANDARD |     
February 19, 2021 at 3:58 a.m.

The College of the Redwoods Art Gallery will present the online “Art Department 2021 Faculty Exhibition” starting Tuesday. The show features the work of Natalia Margulis, Shannon Sullivan, Tova Lund, Benjamin Funke, Lindsay Lacewell Kessner, Gary Christensen and David Wilson.

This exhibit allows viewers the chance to virtually explore images of paintings, sculptures, ceramic, jewelry and photography, reflecting the diverse ideas and media that CR art faculty use within their individual studio practices. The artists present a range of visuals — from luminous photography, intricately subtle sculptures to boldly abstracted forms.

Margulis and Kessner are presenting a pair of abstracted works on canvas, which are immediately distinctive in appearance, medium and process. Margulis’ oil painting, “Beginning,” focuses on the interplay of texture and color, straddling the line between abstraction and representation while also attempting to express a range of emotion, from light to dark. Kessner’s work is an excerpt from a six-part series on elements. It emerged after her exploration into a wide variety of traditional and scientific systems for reducing the natural world to its most fundamental components.

Kessner said, “I decided to develop an elemental system based on my own conceptions of reality.”

 

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Lindsay Lacewell Kessner’s “Lambda” is an oil, acrylic and pastel on canvas. (Submitted)

Her mixed-media painting, “Lambda,” refers to the quantity of the energy present in the vacuum of space, which is responsible for the expansion of the universe.

Sullivan’s ceramic sculpture, “Folded Topography 3,” is part of the ongoing project, Net Gain: An experiment in Geometric Folding by Central Booking, a non-traditional gallery in New York City. Artists were asked to use specific complex mathematical patterns, cut and folded from a single sheet of paper, as the starting point for their work. Sullivan’s series emerged from her immediate affinity for the potential the Net Gain project presented.

“This project spoke to me from the very beginning. I enjoy being part of a community of artists from around the globe folding paper during the COVID isolation. I had dabbled in paper clay casting before, but this opened the door for a deep study,” Sullivan said.

Viewers are invited to view the “Art Department 2021 Faculty Exhibition” starting Tuesdasy through March 25 at www.redwoods.edu/artgallery. Selected images will also be viewable on the gallery’s Instagram @redwoodsgallery and Facebook throughout the duration of the exhibition.

The CR Art Gallery physical space is currently closed to the public. For more information, or to be added to the exhibition announcement email list, contact art-gallery@redwoods.edu or leave a voicemail at 707-476-4100, ext. 4869.

 


 

Plant Cure- in collaboration with Brooklyn Botanic Garden

8/10/2019

From the catalogue for Plant Cure/ Brooklyn

Margot Glass – one of the artists whose work is being exhibited in the 16th International at the Hunt – wrote to tell me about another exhibition, in New York, which also includes her work.

EXHIBITION: Plant Cure/Brooklyn

CENTRAL BOOKING in collaboration with Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Venue: Humanities Gallery, Long Island University Brooklyn, 

1 University Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Dates: September 3 – December 13. 2019

Hours: Monday to Friday 9am – 6pm

Catalogue (available on MagCloud): Plant Cure/Brooklyn Catalog

Plant Cure project continuing with group exhibit of medicinal plant-themed work. Five artists, who were artists in residence at Brooklyn Botanic Garden in the spring of 2019 are joined by additional artists working with the theme of medicinal plants. Exhibit includes four watercolors and two ceramic sculptures, which were inspired by research during the Brooklyn Botanic Garden residency. Additional exhibit/project-related events upcoming.

Central Booking

Margot Glass Dandelion Field Samples, 2019 12 drawings on panel, dimensions variable

One of Margot’s small dandelion drawings is being exhibited. One of her drawings also appears on the cover of Plant Cure Brooklyn exhibition catalogue published by the New York Academy of Medicine and Central Booking. It is the cover image for the Plant Cure Brooklyn catalogue as well.

Another is currently being exhibited in the 16th International Exhibition of Botanical Art at the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation in Pittsburgh. I guess I’m probably going to be meeting Margot next week at the Artists’ Reception!


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From the Encyclopedia To Google to the Middle Ages

Graphic Impressions – Fall 2017

by Susan Rostow

 I spent many wonderful hours of my childhood reading the encyclopedia.
A set of books from A to Z neatly organized on a shelf with the entire world’s information gave me great joy.

I may be a romantic, waxing poetic and nostalgic about the past but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the present times of clicking and swiping through Google images and other internet sites. My ongoing fascination with information, books and images continued to grow through decades and is presently expressed in my printed sculptural books created during my artist in residency at the New York Academy of Medicine Library. Libraries across the country may be facing tougher times as people turn increasingly to the Web. But dedicated librarians continue to maintain collections and provide important services. The rare book room at the New York Academy of Medicine is home to one of the most significant historical libraries. The room itself is a printmaker’s dream. Dim and cool, the walls are lined with built-in bookshelves housed with book spines full of character. Softly lit lamps feature engravings and lithographs evoking not just the history of medicine, but the history of printing as well. As one of five, NYAM’s artists in residence, I had the opportunity to explore the collection over a period of six months doing research in the Drs. Barri and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room.

The first time I entered the NYAM library and was surrounded by rare books dating from the 15th through the 18th centuries I felt as though I went back in time and entered the Middle Ages. I was taken with the smell of the leather covers, amazed by the weight and size of some of the books, marveled at the odd titles on the bindings, and was captured by highly detailed and precise illustrations, engravings and lithographs. Prodigiorum Ostentorum Chronicon by Lykosthenes Konrad, Osteographia, or, The Anatomy of the Bones by William Cheselden were a couple of my favourites. Feeling incredibly inspired, I took my excitement to the printmaking studio along with photos of the pictures from the various books I had observed. Once I returned to my studio, armed with a plethora of images and plenty of ideas I began to work on my vision. Images of medicinal mushrooms and text pertaining to plant cures

…housed with book spines full of character.

were put to use by first making carborundum printmaking plates. This simple, but elegant technique allowed me to connect with some of the similar hand techniques used by the original artists. I printed them with an etching press, a simple press whose basic principle has not changed for centuries. Choosing to use this technique with an old style press made me feel connected to some of the prints from NYAM’s rare books collection.

Prodigioky Ostentory Chronicon (center) William Cheselden's anatomical illustration, detail from Susan Rostow's sculptural book Bone Fungus.

Prodigioky Ostentory Chronicon (center) William Cheselden’s anatomical illustration, detail from Susan Rostow’s
sculptural book Bone Fungus.

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Susan Rostow working in studio 2017

Susan Rostow working in studio 2017

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Fungi, installation of printed sculptural books

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Susan Rostow, Shelf Fungus, 25 x 26 26 inches sculptural book, carborundum prints, mixed media, 2017

After printing hundreds of images of mushrooms and text on paper, the prints were bound together with dried mushrooms, mud, natural glues, and pigments. Paper, tree fungus, roots, soil, and casts from bones merged together creating sculptural books that look, smell and feel like unearthed relics secreted beneath the earth. Hopefully this synthesis captured some of the magic that I felt when I first viewed these incredibly printed and illustrated books.

Plant Cure, a collaborative project with The New York Academy of Medicine, and CENTRAL BOOKING, 21 Ludlow Street, New York, NY was curated by Maddy Rosenberg, curator and founder of CENTRAL BOOKING, NYC. The five selected Artists in Residence at The New York Academy of Medicine – C Bangs, Nancy Campbell, James Martin, Susan Rostow and Mary Ting, spreading over three of its spaces in the Lower East Side gallery, the exhibition will be on view September 6 through October 29. While uptown, display cases at the New York Academy of Medicine document the research, source material, and working methods employed by the Artists in Residence during their six month process of creating their work for Plant Cure.

Accompanying programming at CENTRAL BOOKING includes an Art & Science Discussion Panel on October 13 at 6:00pm and a Brown Bag Artist’s Talk at The New York Academy of Medicine on September 18th at noon.

Susan Rostow is a NYC based artist and the creator of Akua inks. She has conducted numerous demos at SGCI since 1998. Prints featured in this article were originally demonstrated during her Carborundum demo at Georgia State University, SGCI 2017 Terminus: Arrivals & Departures | Atlanta, GA.

More on Susan Rostow and her work can be found at www.susanrostow.com

See the full article here

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October 7, 2017    

C Bangs Makes Activist Art Of Abortifacients For ‘Plant Cure’ At NYC’s CENTRAL BOOKING Art Space

Anne of Carversville

'FPSEEDSFETUS' BY C BANGS, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

‘FPSEEDSFETUS’ BY C BANGS, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Brooklyn artist, activist, feminist and cosmology lover C Bangs delivered ‘fpseedsfetus’ in my FB feed, sharing news of her group show ‘Plant Cure’ at CENTRAL BOOKING Art Space, 21 Ludlow Street ~ New York, NY 10002 ~ 347-731-6559 ~ B/D to Grand Street in collaboration with The New York Academy of Medicine.

You can visit ‘Plant Cure’ until Oct. 29, 2017 and please note the Art & Science Panel, ‘The Roots of Plant Cures’: Friday, October 13, 6pm. Moderator: Anne Garner, Curator, The New York Academy of Medicine. The catalogue is of great interest as an artists review.

My senses were drenched with sensual beauty upon seeing C’s ‘fpseedsfetus’, before reading the story behind the art. C is married to one of my oldest friends in New York, prompting me to share her work here on AOC.  C tells the story behind the ‘Plant Cure Show’.

C Bangs, ‘Plant Cure’ at CENTRAL BOOKING Art Space

“My artist’s residency at The New York Academy of Medicine in collaboration with CENTRAL BOOKING Art Space began February 21, 2017 with five other artists who exhibit their work at CB Art Space”. The directive from CB Art Space were “Just to be clear, though your references will come from the books in the collections, your artwork need not be in book form. And feel free to produce more than one work as well, even installations are welcome as we will have more space than usual for this exhibition.”

After the orientation I went to the Library on February 28 and began my research initially photographing images from a botanical book. Returning to my studio and uploading the images from my phone I found that the image of the Flowering Pavonis aka Caesalpinia pulcherrima was a striking flower that I began to research. After the painful election of the current administration and the threats to cut the budget to Planned Parenthood as well as the attacks on the environment I became more interested in focusing my work around this plant.

The following are quotes from The History of Abortifacients by Stassa Edwards 11/18/14:

The story of the peacock flower is a microcosm of a larger history of abortifacients: knowledge passed from woman to woman, often outside the boundaries of traditional medical discourses and, therefore, forever confined to a moral realm of danger and superstition. But despite hundreds of years of legal and religious repression, the abortifacient endured, proving that the desire for reproductive freedom is not nearly as modern as some argue.

The history of abortifacients is a narrative that parallels and informs our own contemporary debates over them, particularly in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision. It’s a history that has always been mired in the murky waters of what exactly an abortifacient is; what constitutes life, and when does it begin? But it’s also a story of the incredible flexibility of legal systems that found ever-new and astonishing ways to suppress reproductive freedom.

Abortifacients are nearly as old as the written word itself, as early as 1085, when Constantine the African included iris, rue, willow and stinking ferula as effective herbs for inducing menses. Even before that, Muhuammed ibn Zakariya Al-Razi described a cinnamon, rue, and wallflower broth for similar purposes in a text dating between 865-925.

Abortifacients were mixed and were, it seems, readily available through midwives or “wise women” throughout the Roman era. There were few laws governing their use, in large part because of the broader sense at the time of when a pregnancy actually began. The determination of pregnancy was left to the woman, who would not have been considered pregnant until she actually declared herself so. Such determination almost always came after the quickening (when a woman actually feels fetal movement), which can occur anywhere between 14 and 20 weeks into a pregnancy.

My investigation included the work of Maria Sibylla Merian, a botanical illustrator who, in her 1705 book Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam wrote that slave women used the seeds of the plant to abort pregnancies after being raped by their owners.

The month before I accompanied my husband, Dr. Gregory Matloff to a solar sail conference in Kyoto, Japan where on a sight seeing trip I encountered a candy shop where artists’ sculpted candy in wildly varied images and colors. Watching the entire process of sculpting the brightly colored sugar into the form of an orange haired man with a characteristic trumpian hair style. At the end I and the other women who viewed the process were given pieces of the candy with the image that ranged in size from 1.5 to .04 inches in diameter. This was a bitter-sweet moment because in them referencing our presence and before the inauguration I was the recipient of several intricately formed pieces of our soon to be president. As I painted my panels I decided to include all of the candy onto the first panel in the form of a protest for what it stood for and in response to the right women have to determine the course of their lives. Appropriately the untreated candy has begun to flake and deteriorate reflecting the current administration.”

'PAVONISA' BY C BANGS BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

‘PAVONISA’ BY C BANGS BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

''PAVONIS B' BY C BANGS, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

”PAVONIS B’ BY C BANGS, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

'PAVONISC' BY C BANGS BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

‘PAVONISC’ BY C BANGS BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

'PAVONISCOSMOS1' BY C BANGS, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

‘PAVONISCOSMOS1’ BY C BANGS, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

'FLOWERING PAVONIS FEMALE EDGE' BY C BANGS BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

‘FLOWERING PAVONIS FEMALE EDGE’ BY C BANGS BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

C Bangs: Merging Art & Science

Bangs enjoys a long love of cosmology, expressed exquisitely in her gift for merging art & science. C is also an interpreter, taking complex scientific topics and bringing them to life through visualization. I’ve included several examples of this work, devoted to her love of cosmology. Review all of C’s art and her portfolio on her website C Bangs

STAR BRIGHT? CHAPTER 1 FRONTISPIECE (2015) BY C BANGS BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

STAR BRIGHT? CHAPTER 1 FRONTISPIECE (2015) BY C BANGS BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

'STAR BRIGHT?' (LULUAS COVER COPY) COVER' (2015) BY C BANGS BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

‘STAR BRIGHT?’ (LULUAS COVER COPY) COVER’ (2015) BY C BANGS BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

'STAR BRIGHT?' CHAPTER 13 FRONTISPIECE (2015) C BANGS BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

‘STAR BRIGHT?’ CHAPTER 13 FRONTISPIECE (2015) C BANGS BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

'GAIA/VGER OIL & ACRYLIC WITH MICA & IRON OXIDE 48"X60" 2001

‘GAIA/VGER OIL & ACRYLIC WITH MICA & IRON OXIDE 48″X60″ 2001

Dr. Gregory Matloff

C mentioned her husband Dr. Gregory Matloff, (see website) one of my oldest friends in New York. Greg’s intellect and passion for astronomy was always breathtaking and never more so than today. You can read two of his recent articles as a sampling of the ideas and futuristic visions that bind C and Greg together in a wonderful relationship that fires on all cylinders — on Earth and beyond.  C and Greg share a mutual website for STAR BRIGHT?. 

Call me inspired. ~ Anne

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August 24, 2017    

Artist Inspiration: Plant Cure (Part 1)

by Allison Piazza
 

Todays’ guest post is introduced by Maddy Rosenberg, curator and founder of CENTRAL BOOKING . The New York Academy of Medicine Library and CENTRAL BOOKING collaborated on the exhibition Plant Cure.  For this exhibition, five artists were selected to do research at the Academy Library over six months to produce work with their own unique take on medicinal plants. The project will culminate with an exhibition at CENTRAL BOOKING on the Lower East Side from September 6-October 29, 2017.

I approached Lisa O’Sullivan, the Director of the New York Academy of Medicine Library, who I had first met when she participated in one of our panels at the gallery, with an idea for a collaborative project. An important component of CENTRAL BOOKING’s programming has always revolved around art and science as well as artist’s books, therefore a collaboration with the New York Academy of Medicine seemed only natural.

For the project, ultimately named Plant Cure, five artists were selected to do research at the Academy Library over six months to produce work with their own unique take on medicinal plants. The project will culminate with an exhibition at CENTRAL BOOKING on the Lower East Side from September 6-October 29, 2017, featuring the work of the artists in dialog with other artists who have also been intrigued by the theme in their own work. At the Academy, display cases document the research, source material, and working methods employed by each of the five artists in the process of creating their work for Plant Cure.

Over the next few weeks, I am pleased to be able to present here those five artists as they discuss their work and time at the Academy Library. This week we begin with James Martin and Nancy Campbell, both whose final project work is in printmaking, but through very different approaches and results.

James Martin
 

My questions: how have artists and anatomists from the past chosen to depict what lies beneath the surface of the body? How have botanists and artists portrayed the plants thought to have curative properties? What are the common design elements of these life forms? Have the different printing processes changed the nature of this visual information? And my creative query—how can I re-purpose these incredible pictures from the Academy Library and create something completely new?I narrowed my focus to anatomical texts that explored arterial and venous networks, attracted to the obvious analogies to plant forms. Historical Collections Librarian Arlene Shaner was able to suggest many fascinating volumes, such as:The crisp and stylized engravings of John Lizars (1825) use red and blue colors to graphically present the networks of veins and arteries. Antonio Scarpa’s large engravings on the subject of aneurysms are arranged with clarity and artfulness. Closeups of these lethal defects are beautifully abstract. Lithographs of arteries by Richard Quain and Joseph Maclise (1844) have a more poignant quality. The cadavers are not generic bodies, but individuals, often young. Instruments of dissection are part of the still life. Another completely different, but fascinating approach, is Wilhelm Braune’s Topographical Atlas (1888). The color lithographs are accurate renderings from frozen slices of cadavers. Our modern MRI imaging is the closest analogy. Some of these butcher shop portions produce a shiver of revulsion. But, the images are flat and the resulting shapes allow for alternate design opportunities.

Torso from Frederich Tiedemann's Explicationes tabularum arteriarum corporis humani (1822).

Torso from Frederich Tiedemann’s Explicationes tabularum arteriarum corporis humani (1822).

For my exploration of medical botanicals, I began with the line woodcuts of Fuchs (1542). It could be used as a field guide today such is the clarity and accuracy of its observations. The engravings in William Woodville’s Medical Botany (1793) are even more detailed and nuanced. Structures are clear and complete from root to flower. The addition of color in the Henry Trimen and Robert Bentley’s Medicinal Plants (1880) imparts an even more lifelike quality to the illustrations.

Hellebore from William Woodville's Medical Botany (1793).

Hellebore from William Woodville’s Medical Botany (1793).

As part of my creative process, I took digital photographs of plates contained in the above described books. Back in my studio, I work with these photos with editing software. Beginning with anatomical images, I establish the “bones” of the composition.  These are layered with my photographs of tree bark to provide textures, shapes, and a non-specific context, with the relevant botanicals added to the mix. The finished piece was then printed via an inkjet printer on printmaking paper. I added another element with the application of monotype inks printed from mylar over the digital prints for a slight softening of the sharpness and more richness to the color.

Tree bark photograph used in Torso with Hellebore (Left). Monotype plate for Torso with Hellebore (Right).

Tree bark photograph used in Torso with Hellebore (Left). Monotype plate for Torso with Hellebore (Right).

My creative mash-ups of these historic images have been inspiring and fun. Thanks to all at the Academy for hosting this project and to Maddy Rosenberg of CENTRAL BOOKING for organizing this residency and the upcoming exhibition Plant Cure.

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Torso with Hellebore by James Martin archival digital print with monotype.

Nancy Campbell

I absolutely adored my time spent in the Drs. Barri and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room at the New York Academy of Medicine. Handling objects so old, delicate, and precious was a rare treat, indeed.

While I enjoyed studying an array of different volumes in the Academy Library, Okamoto Ippo’s Jëshi kei ryaki wago (1693; 3 vol. book of Moxa-cautery) was a perfect match for me. Medieval Japanese picture scrolls have been a long fascination, and I have studied them in museum exhibitions in Japan and the USA. Of course, I have never held an actual medieval scroll and experienced the sequential unfolding of its story (scrolls being so incredibly fragile). Therefore, handling a 17th century Japanese book during my residence, with its ultra-thin, semi-transparent printed paper, was an amazing first-time experience for me and one that will surely affect my work for years to come.

Artemisia by Nancy Campbell.

Artemisia by Nancy Campbell.

In my artwork I strive to evoke an Eastern sense of balance between fragility and strength while using a system of highly structured, intricate abstraction. My methods are slow and measured, but I work for a spontaneous result that inhabits an ambiguous realm between the visible and invisible, the logical and the intuitive, the representational and the abstract. Echoed in all of my work is a continuous play of opposites – often found at the heart of Japanese aesthetics.

Meridian by Nancy Campbell.

Meridian by Nancy Campbell.

My work for the Plant Cure exhibition references text and diagrams that appear to be layered on top of one another. Each page in the Japanese books I viewed has hints of the previous page showing through the thin Japanese paper. I printed and painted on both sides of Japanese papers and used the method of collage (with Japanese glue) to layer multiple sheets together. A large screenprint based on a collage is still in process.

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August 29, 2017

Artist Inspiration: Plant Cure (Part 2)

by Allison Piazza

The New York Academy of Medicine

Todays’ guest post is introduced by Maddy Rosenberg, curator and founder of CENTRAL BOOKING. The New York Academy of Medicine Library and CENTRAL BOOKING collaborated on the exhibition Plant Cure.  For this exhibition, five artists were selected to do research at the Academy Library over six months to produce work with their own unique take on medicinal plants. The project will culminate with an exhibition at CENTRAL BOOKING on the Lower East Side from September 6-October 29, 2017. Part 1 can be read here.

The next two artists featured in the Plant Cure collaboration between CENTRAL BOOKING and the New York Academy of Medicine Library are Susan Rostow and C Bangs. Susan’s sculptural work is extremely textural and beckons to be touched, while with C it’s our eye that takes the journey over the surfaces. Both artists’ works engage us and demand closer scrutiny.

Susan Rostow

I spent many wonderful hours of my childhood reading the encyclopedia. A set of books from A to Z neatly organized on a shelf with the entire world’s information gave me great joy. I may be a romantic, waxing poetic and nostalgic about the past, but that has not stopped me from enjoying the present times of clicking and swiping through Google images and other websites. My ongoing fascination with information, books and images continued to grow through decades and is presently expressed in my sculptural books.

The first time I entered the New York Academy of Medicine Library and was surrounded by rare books dating from the 15th through the 18th centuries, I felt as though I traveled back in time and entered the Middle Ages. I was taken with the smell of the leather covers, amazed by the weight and size of some of the books, marveled at the odd titles on the bindings, and was captured by highly detailed and precise illustrations. Prodigiorum Ostentorum Chronicon (1557) by Konrad Lykosthenes and Osteographia, or, The Anatomy of the Bones (1733) by William Cheselden are a couple of my favorites.

Susan Rostow working in studio.

Susan Rostow working in studio.

Feeling incredibly inspired, I took my excitement to the studio along with photos of the pictures from the various books I had observed. Armed with a plethora of images and plenty of ideas, I began to work on my vision. Images of medicinal mushrooms and text pertaining to plant cures were put to use by first making carborundum printmaking plates. This is a low tech method used for making plates by hand. This simple, but elegant technique allowed me to connect with some of the similar hand techniques used by the original artists. I printed them with an etching press, a simple press whose basic principle has not changed for centuries. Choosing to use this technique with an old style press made me feel connected to some of the reproductions from the New York Academy of Medicine Library’s rare book collection.

Susan Rostow, Bone Fungus. 2017, mixed media sculptural book with carborundum prints on paper, dried mushroom, wood, parabolic mirrors, real and plastic bones, sand, glass beads and pigments, 25 x 26 x 26 inches.

Susan Rostow, Bone Fungus. 2017, mixed media sculptural book with carborundum prints on paper, dried mushroom, wood, parabolic mirrors, real and plastic bones, sand, glass beads and pigments, 25 x 26 x 26 inches.

After printing hundreds of images of mushrooms and text on paper, the prints were bound together with dried mushrooms, mud, natural glues, and pigments. Paper, tree fungus, roots, soil, and casts from bones merged together creating sculptural books that look, smell and feel like unearthed relics secreted beneath the earth. Hopefully this synthesis captured some of the magic that I felt when I first viewed these incredibly illustrated books.

04_rostow

Susan Rostow’s sculptural book Bone Fungus (left and center), and detail of Cheselden’s anatomical illustration (1733) (right).

Prodigioky Ostentory Chronicon (left) William Cheselden’s anatomical illustration (1733) (center), and detail from Susan Rostow's sculptural book Bone Fungus (right).

Prodigioky Ostentory Chronicon (left) William Cheselden’s anatomical illustration (1733) (center), and detail from Susan Rostow’s sculptural book Bone Fungus (right).

C Bangs

My art investigates frontier science combined with symbolist figuration from an ecological feminist point of view. A decade long collaboration with quantum consciousness physicist Dr. Evan Harris Walker has lead me to incorporate his equations in my paintings in a manner mutually agreed upon, designed to posit questions related to his theories. Functioning as design elements that often speak to the interconnectivity of everything in the cosmos, the equations parallel the sacred writings found in illuminated manuscripts. In recent collaboration with my partner, Dr. Greg Matloff, we investigate consciousness from the point of view of panpsychism philosophically, historically and scientifically.

The books I researched at the New York Academy of Medicine Library included Robert Fludd and Konrad Lykosthenes. What does humankind preserve and what do we eliminate? Fludd had a theory of cosmic harmony and Kepler correctly accused Fludd of being a theosophist. Additionally Fludd is remembered as an astrologer, mathematician, cosmologist, Quabalist and Rosicrucian. His writing centered around sympathies found in nature between man, the earth and the divine.

Flowering Pavonis seeds used as an abortifacient with fetus studies. C Bangs (2017).

Flowering Pavonis seeds used as an abortifacient with fetus studies. C Bangs (2017).

Maria Sibylla Merian’s Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (1705) at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden ultimately lead me to contact the New York Botanical Garden. Merian wrote that slave women’s use of the peacock flower was deeply political, using it to abort pregnancies forced upon them by their slave owners. The history of abortifacients is nearly as old as the written word and the determination of pregnancy was left to the woman, who was not considered pregnant until she declared herself to be so. When the Catholic Church realized that they could not regulate abortifacients or convict the women who used them, they began persecuting midwives, declaring them witches.[1] The enforcement of religious law and witch burning was an effective tool for breaking a chain of knowledge about abortifacients that had been in circulation for over a thousand years. Despite Merian’s revelation about the peacock flower in her book, widely used by botanists and men of medicine, this knowledge was ignored. Merchants valued the plant’s looks and shipped large amounts of its seeds to their home countries, where the flower decorated many royal gardens.

Flowering Pavonis and diagrams from Robert Fludd's Utriusque cosmi majoris scilicet et minoris metaphysica (1617-1621). C Bangs (2017).

Flowering Pavonis and diagrams from Robert Fludd’s Utriusque cosmi majoris scilicet et minoris metaphysica (1617-1621). C Bangs (2017).

Ironically, when I wished to photograph the peacock flower at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or the New York Botanical Garden, I found that it had been deaccessioned by Brooklyn and is kept in a section not available to the public at the New York Botanical Garden.

Flowering Pavonis and images from Konrad Lykosthenes' Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon (1557). C Bangs (2017).

Flowering Pavonis and images from Konrad Lykosthenes’ Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon (1557). C Bangs (2017).

Reference:
[1] Edwards, Stassa. The History of Abortifacients. Jezebel: 2014, November 18.

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August 31, 2017    

Artist Inspiration: Plant Cure (Part 3)

by Allison Piazza

The New York Academy of Medicine

The New York Academy of Medicine Library and CENTRAL BOOKING collaborated on the exhibition Plant Cure.  For this exhibition, five artists were selected to do research at the Academy Library over six months to produce work with their own unique take on medicinal plants. The project will culminate with an exhibition at CENTRAL BOOKING on the Lower East Side from September 6-October 29, 2017. 

Maddy Rosenberg

Plant Cure, the collaborative project between CENTRAL BOOKING and The New York Academy of Medicine Library, percolating for over a year, is about to open to the public on September 6. The project includes a two month-long exhibition featuring the work of 19 international artists, vitrines documenting the inspiration and process of the five Artists in Residence, a catalog, and a program of events at both venues.

I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to assemble the work of these artists who bring their own unique interpretations of plants and their medicinal qualities. From meticulously rendered drawings and water colors to an installation of sculptural free-standing collage works that seem to multiply from pedestal to pedestal, to a medicine cabinet that is beyond the expected, these works offer the viewer science from an artistic slant. In addition, interspersed within the CENTRAL BOOKING exhibition is a video-projected panorama of the Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room and a floor to ceiling cabinet of curiosities.

But Plant Cure was more than a curatorial project for me. I enjoyed being the “honorary” sixth artist in the Academy Library. It was an opportunity for me to go beyond researching ideas for shaping the exhibition at CENTRAL BOOKING, mindful, as well, of pursuing material for my own studio work. The personal one-on-one access to exquisitely designed and illustrated books dating back hundreds of years was like hitting the mother lode for me, with the aid of the fountain of information and helpful direction of Arlene Shaner steering every visit through the vast possibilities.

My aim was to take my interest in medical museums and historic medical texts that are chock full of hand drawn images, add the science of the medicinal usefulness of plants combined with their aesthetic qualities, and make art out of it. The artists’ orientation at the library got the thought processes churning when I saw the collection of Burdock Blood Bitters advertising cards as a way of linking the plants with the cure.

Always one to add an element to the flat page, whether it be built in pop-ups or interactive movable components, I requested in my next visit to see several of the anatomical flapbooks, and drew considerably from ones such as The BodyScope (1948) by Ralph H. Segal and Anatomicum Vivum (1720) by Christoph von Hellwig. The plant references I used came heavily from The Herball; or Generall Historie of Plantes (1597) by John Gerarde and published in London in 1597.

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Inspiration: The Herball; or Generall Historie of Plantes (1597) by John Gerarde

From there emerged an artist’s book of my own medicinal cards with composite images on one side and texts of the cures on the reverse, tucked into pockets of an accordion book to hold them, framed by the drawings of the plants themselves, much like a traditional book of hours. A second artist’s book that is even more a two-dimensional object that becomes a three-dimensional structure through pop-ups and its own flaps, is in process. I am certain with all the material I was able to accumulate and am still digesting, pieces of the Academy Library collection will wind up in many more of my works to come.

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Medicinal cards. Maddy Rosenberg (2017)

I am happy to introduce Mary Ting, the last of our five official CENTRAL BOOKING artists at the New York Academy of Medicine Library, who comes with a long interest in medicinal plants through family heritage and her own love of gardening.

Mary Ting

Secluded away in the library of the New York Academy of Medicine, surrounded by bookcases of historical medical texts, I have been intoxicated by the books containing magical illustrations of astonishing beauty and text that entice unanswerable questions. I have been looking and re-looking at the Hortus Sanitatus, various medical botany books, and anatomical flap books. Of particular interest for me are common medicinal plants, (such as ginseng, valerian, mandrake, snakeweed, dandelion, foxglove) ones that have figured in my garden, family life, and are also of cultural interest.

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Academy Library references: Pages from Hortus Sanitatis (1517); The Practical Home Physician (1887); and Medical Botany (1834)

Having grown up weeding beside my mother in her ornamental garden and in a house with one hundred orchids and dried specimens tucked away in drawers, plants and fungi have always held an important place in my life. These were not just specimens but also markers of our family migrations. Of particular reverence is the dried lingzi mushroom that my mother plucked from her college campus (Ginling Women’s College, Nanjing, 1943). This pondering of history, family, nature and grief is central to my work; it is also why this exhibition, Plant Cure, and the research at the Academy Library is an incredible opportunity and a never-ending bounty to feed from.

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Pan and Ting family collection of ginseng and mushroom

One work to come out of this residency is Holding On, which deals with the interwoven relationship of botany and medicine. I have incorporated empty Ginseng Royal jelly glass bottles as ‘fruit’ on the vine, the red and blue wires refer to the arteries and the plastic tubing to intravenous drip tubing. The title refers to the notion that Ginseng root could be gnawed on in one’s last hours while waiting for the arrival of your children for the final goodbye.

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Mary Ting, Holding On (detail), 2017, vine, wire, plastic tubing, glass, 80 x 24 x 10 inches

The library research also inspired The Gardener’s Medical Manual, a new rendition of an earlier series, The Other Garden.  Among outsized botanical specimens with eyes, one can find a woodblock image from the ancient Chinese classic, Mountains and Seas, 山海经 , an early geography text that was meant to be neither factual nor allegorical. Centipedes also loom large, as my grandmother’s life was saved by the medical application of a poisonous centipede.

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Mary Ting, The Gardeners Medicinal Manual (detail), 2017, cut tyvek, silkscreen, rubberstamps, ink, 20 x 30 inches

I am continually struck by how so much has changed outwardly, given technological developments, but our medieval notions of man’s dominion over nature and its ravaging remains unchanged. The lure of wild ginseng continues with its illegal harvesting and unsustainable consumption. Though I suspect that it functions primarily as a status gift and that many, like my family members, never utilize the roots and the children arrive too late for the final goodbye.

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Available Light: The Everyday Landscape Paintings of Hearne Pardee

Whitehot Magazine – December 2017

by Noah Becker

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Hearne Pardee, Evening, 2017, Acrylic and collage, 12 1/2″ x 19″

I had a chance to speak with the painter Hearne Pardee who has a show on in the library at Central Booking in New York City’s Lower East Side. The show continues until December 17th, 2017.

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May 20, 2017

An Immiscible Swirl: Greg Lindquist at Central Booking

by Henry Chapman

Greg Lindquist: Smoke and Water/Dispatches at The Library at Central Booking

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Greg Lindquist, Smoke and Water: Dispatches, 2017; acrylic on sheetrock, 12 by 26 feet, coal ash in Plexiglass vitrines (dimensions variable); Duke Energy’s Sutton Lake (Selenium), oil on canvas, 78 by 68 in, 2015; Duke Energy’s Dan River, oil on panel, 32 x 49 x 2 in, 2014/2016, Smoke and Water, Mercury, oil, glass bead and iridescent pigment on linen, 8 x 10 1/8 in, 2016; The Library at Central Booking, NYC

In Greg Lindquist’s paintings and wall mural, a mixture of coal ash and water – pictured as an immiscible swirl – serves as an avatar for a 2014 coal ash spill that contaminated drinking water in North Carolina and Virginia. Lindquist has addressed this particular spill previously, in exhibitions at the North Carolina Museum of Art and again at The Southeastern Center for Community Change. Those two venues reflect strains of his thought (fine art, social action) that his installations attempt to conjoin.

The Library (curated by Diana Wege) is a subsection of Central Booking, an amalgam venue that is part-bookstore, part-gallery. Lindquist is doing a lot within it. He has placed his oil paintings on two walls of a large, acrylic mural; the color-separated layers of its “swirl” image give it a graphic, digital effect. On the floor, Plexiglass vitrines of evidential coal ash follow the edge of the wall. An extensive booklet contextualizes the exhibition with interviews, essays by Lindquist and others, documentation of earlier exhibitions, a family history. Be warned, this is an exhibition with a lengthy backstory.

And yet, his paintings are not props by any means. Lindquist paints from projected photographs of the Dan River and Sutton Lake, two sites exposed to arsenic, cadmium, selenium and other pollutants. He’s attentive to the enlarged source images’ pixilation, which he renders here in Monet-like dabs. The colors look blown out and at times inverted, Fauvist for the end-days. According to Lindquist, the greenish color that underlies both mural and oil paintings is a Benjamin Moore finish, “Fresh Cut Grass”, “Toxic” is how previous viewers have described it, he tells me, and I can see why. It gives the paintings a hazy, eerie light. But he is thoughtful, troubled by the premise. “Part of the problem is that we don’t always know what toxic looks like. What is toxic?”

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Greg Lindquist; Duke Energy’s Sutton Lake (Selenium), 2015. Oil on canvas, 78 by 68 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

When I meet him, Lindquist is bussing a used tub of paint out to his car, saying he’d just completed the final touches the night before. These late decisions are idiosyncratic – including the low height of the exhibition’s smallest painting; the paper mâché covering a doorknob in the middle of his mural – that make the exhibition feel personal, inhabited. The coal ash vitrines along the floor reference Smithson’s “nonsite” nature dislocated into the gallery. There is a corrective aspect to this gesture: dislocation is not simply a function of “aesthetic decisions” as he writes of Land Art in a letter to Smithson in the exhibition booklet, but also political.

“Installation Art” is a short hand way of describing the method by which Lindquist brings his art into contact with environmental politics. I thought of the artist Sharon Hayes, who bends formats of protest, of assembly, toward a poetic- political art. I thought of Thomas Hirschhorn; an earlier iteration of “Smoke and Water” recalls Hirschhorn’s “Gramsci Monument” inviting community participation. When I bring this up, Lindquist makes a distinction between paid workers and volunteer contributors. That Hirschhorn paid participants in the making of “Gramsci Monument” makes him uncomfortable (although “volunteer” is a fine line from “unpaid laborer” hardly more ethical than paid labor).

Another, crucial difference is that Hirschhorn lives within the (Kurt Schwitters) Merzbau, collage-logic being the way much installation art has reconciled the conjunction of difficult parts. Lindquist has little merz to him. Nor does he share Hirschhorn’s ra-ra-ra mantra of “energy yes, quality no.” His work errs the other way: one is called in for meditation, or a quiet chat on a serious subject. “Smoke and Water” is admirably un-sensational, which may have less to do with artistic precedent than with Lindquist’s commitment to his subject and a refreshingly sincere conviction in art’s ability to affect social change.

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Greg Lindquist, Smoke and Water: Dispatches, 2017. detail showing coal ash in Plexiglass vitrines. Courtesy of the Artist

Whether this is compatible with painting is an open question. It’s a premise of his work and a dare. Other disciplines than painting, particularly photography, sculpture, drawing, and video, have adapted with greater success to the Installation format. Painting does not play nicely with others; is not easily assimilated. When it’s simply a sign, it withers. But Lindquist’s paintings are adamantly complex. The most delicate is a small 8 x 10 inches painting of a coal ash “swirl” made with oil and glass bead. Look for it within the mural – its subtle placement took me close to ten minutes to notice it. The larger paintings are more challenging than beautiful, but full of the kinds of labored decisions that make his use of the space specific. He is a painter who leaves open the possibility of a discovery in paint, a chance encounter. The promise and challenge of Lindquist’s exhibition is the mixture of difficult, maybe impossible parts.
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September, 2016

MICHAEL JOYCE ON ZENON FAJFER’S “CLOCK OF TIMELESSNESS”

Michael Joyce
 

InSeptember 2016 in New York the premiere of the kinetic poem Timeless Timelessness / Clock of Timelessness by Zenon Fajfer took place . The poet initiated his transcontinental project of building two clock towers in Krakow and New York, connecting poetry with architecture. Instead of numbers on the face of the clock there will be a 12-letter word, PERFETE (and its equivalents in three languages: TIMELESSNESS / ATEMPORALIT – / ATEMPORALITÉ), and full hours instead of the bugle call or chimes will be displayed the next verses of the poem.

In September 2016 in New York Zenon Fajfer premiered Clock of Timelessness / Clock of Timelessness . The presentation of his transcontinental project linking poetry with architecture, which consists of the city of Krakow and New York City. Instead of digits their faces will feature 12 letters of the word TIMELESSNESS (and its equivalents in three languages: BEZCZASOWOÊÆ / ATEMPORALIT – / ATEMPORALITÉ), and every hour will display a poem instead of sounding a chime.

(Photos courtesy of Robert Zott)

 

 

An international meeting under Zenon Fajfer’s Clock of Timelessness

 

As part of the Polish Impact festival : Ha! Vanguard 2016 in New York, I had the pleasure to participate in the pre-premiere Zenon Fajfer project. Timelessness Clockduring which Fajfer almost hypnotized the audience with the interpretation of a series of twelve lyrical poems, and Katarzyna Bazarnik hijacked the listeners with excellent translations into English. We wanted to sit in front of such a clock tower and watch how these poems develop in front of our eyes hour by hour. I am sure that both residents and tourists visiting Krakow and New York will be in the same delight to wait for these transforming lyrics, looking at the new incarnations of clock towers of the digital age, just as they once looked at captivatingly wonderful timers, for centuries explaining the structure the world.

Over the past few years, I was lucky to get to know Zenon and Kasia, his wife and colleague. Gaining admiration for their poetic work, translations, shared artistic visions, I saw real citizens of the world; I noticed lyrical strength and philosophical insight. I was also deeply acquainted with and appreciated by American culture, especially literature, and what connects it with Polish culture and literature. In my opinion, all these features culminated not only in the concept of the Clock of Timelessness , but also in the cycle of thrifty, moving, poetic meditations on the weave of life, love and time – it does not matter whether we are in Warsaw or in Washington, Buffalo or in Bukowno, in Krakow or New York.

The procession of the stanza that will roll over to viewers standing at the foot of the clock towers in both cities will become, as Karen Bard, a quantum philosopher and physicist, “tangled stories” in which “many voices resound in gaps, always creating a cacophony of recurring stories, constantly interacting with each other, … split, but again confusing and interwoven with each other. ”

If – as reportedly Adam Mickiewicz expressed his fingers – Chopina’s fingers were a “butterfly band”, Fajfer, a truly worthy 21st century successor of both these artists, conducts a “symphony of skylights” which on Clock of Timelessness will flash over the roofs of cities every now and then constellations.

Michael Joyce

An International (Co) incident: Zenon Fajfer’s Clock of Timelessness

Zenon Fajfer’s Clock of Timelessness project at the Polish Impact: Ha! Wangarda Festlab 2016 in New York City, where Fajfer’s mesmerizing twelve lyric poem sequence and Katarzyna Bazarnik’s splendid Polish translation of them. their audience and made us wish we could unfolding hour by hour. I feel certain that both citizens of Krakow and Krakow will be able to live in the world of citizens and do not forget about them. and the world in thrall.

I have had a great good fortune of coming to know and admire their poetry, translations, shared visions, world citizenship, lyrical power and philosophical acuity. I have likewise been taken by the Polish culture and literature. All those qualities have, to my mind, come to fruition in the Clock of Timelessness ; are in Warsaw or Washington, Buffalo or Bukowno, Krakow or New York.

The procession of poems that will unfold for viewers before the quantum physicist and philosopher Karen Barad calls “entangled tales” in which “Many voices speak in the interstices, and cacophony of inthere already reiteratively intra -acting stories … [each] diffractively threaded through and enfolded in the other. ”

If Chopin had in his fingers- as Adam Mickiewicz is supposed to have said- then, Fajfer, as both Mickiewicz’s and Chopin’s true twenty-first century successor, has in his hands a “symphony of fireflies” which each hour the Clock of Timelessness will resemble new constellations.

 

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May 21, 2016

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Liminal Terrain

 

Navigating Liminal Terrain

By Robynn Smith

Sketched out on a napkin on the floor of a deep cave in the middle of nowhere, Liminal Terrain became the most complicated print project of my career. The project involved the assistance and contributions of at least six people. Throughout the project, my goal was to make the piece appear as an apparition, all struggles invisible. My challenge was to gather, organize and navigate through enormously varied methods and materials, searching for the most direct routes, recognizing opportunities and embracing the unexpected. In 1967 Bob Dylan collaborated with his band mates on some loose recordings. The resulting lyrics to 20 new songs, written but never set to music, were filed away and forgotten. In 2014, Dylan handed them over to producer T-Bone Burnette, who assembled an ensemble of extremely able musicians to interpret Dylan’s lyrics. The band became The New Basement Tapes and in 2015 released the album Lost on the River. After hearing the songs, then watching the film of their collaboration, I felt exhilarated and jealous at the same time. I admired the energy, synchronicity, spontaneity and excitement that comes from working with others. The exploration of the unfamiliar, shared with other curious souls. When I first heard The New Basement Tapes, I had no way of knowing that Lost on the River would become the sound track for two major printmaking collaborations, with two different groups of people, on two different continents. Liminal Terrain was slated for exhibition early in its inception, through a competition sponsored by Akua Color. The deadlines, format, juror/curators and fellow exhibitors added to the process, becoming significant players in the project. This collaboration was born of necessity. When I left Carlsbad Caverns I wanted to create a series of lighted vignettes surrounded by pitch-blackness. I knew that digital photographs would be involved, overprinted with linoleum cut relief prints. I knew that the piece would involve a number of independent panels, somehow visually connected. I suspected I would be calling on a raft of people to help me bring the piece to fruition. By chance I saw a call for entries for an interesting exhibition in New York called Then and Now, and applied for it. Juror Maddy Rosenberg of Central Booking Art Space accepted my proposal, and the project suddenly became real. It was April, and the exhibition was slated for October. Akua Color was sponsoring the exhibition, therefore the piece had to be made with Akua Inks. I had to find compatibility between large-scale digital prints, papers, linoleum carvings, Akua inks, an unorthodox installation system and a safe, affordable way to ship the work to New York. I was to be the conductor of this orchestra. I rallied my players. My first call was to Jonathon Wolf, Photoshop ace with a high quality, large-scale Epson printer. Jonathon and I worked together to transform 15 of my Carlsbad Caverns photos into 5 separate, composited images. I then consulted with the folks at Hiromi Paper in Santa Monica, to choose the right paper for the job. Eduardo Gil de Montes from the Monterey Peninsula College Graphic Arts program, printed small prototypes on all of the various papers…

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January 5, 2016

THE DOG’S NOTES

Sinovision

Inspired by observing dogs, artist Poren Huang borrowed the figures of human being’s best friend to use in his sculptures to present human behaviors, emotions and characteristics.

Now, a series of his works titled “dog’s notes” is on display at OffLINE at CENTRAL BOOKING.

Sinovision Journal reporter Jane Stone went to the exhibition and brings you the story.

 

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January 1, 2016

Twisting Art and Math

John Haber
in New York City

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A noted architect and theorist of early Renaissance Italy described beauty as concinnitas, a “skillful joining.” Could he have had in mind the intersection of science, mathematics, and art?

Probably not, but he did provide an account of linear perspective that a mathematician would envy. And now an exhibition adopts his term for art or science as not a record of things seen, but rather the equations that make things possible. Meantime, if your own associations with math are more formidable and clinical, that, too may say something about art and science. In a digital age, both may be collecting imafeldmanges and information on you that you would hesitate to share. “Twisted Data” finds its own beauty in a process that has been around longer than you may care to think. ForSarah Meyohas, the data and the beauty can derive even from Wall Street.    

A skillful joining

Concinnitas began as a chance conversation between strangers, a publisher and a mathematician. Robert Feldman of Parasol Press and Daniel Rockmore of Dartmouth discovered a shared interest in art and knowledge of Minimalism. Their project grew to include ten of the greatest living mathematicians and physicists. Each selected an equation close to his heart and central to his work, and each rendered it in his own hand in what became a print. Leon Battista Alberti, writing in Renaissance Florence, did indeed plead for art as a skillful joining. How fitting, then, that the series is a collaboration many times over.

If the collaboration seems to lack for an artist, pay no mind. Depending on one’s philosophy of mathematics, its true artist and architect might be logic or nature itself. Each contributor also submitted a text on the chosen formula’s meaning and beauty, which could well boil down to the same thing. Simon Donaldson accompanies Ampère’s law of electricity and magnetism with a picture, because “they stimulate different ways of thought,” the pictorialand the symbolic – but again as “different descriptions of the same thing.” Another contributor, Freeman Dyson, would surely have shared the Nobel Prize with Richard Feynman and others, but the prize can go to no more than three in a given year. Such is the power of mathematics.

Rockmore and Feldman made their choices, too, in search of significance and beauty. When the first approached the subject of art and science, he imagined pictures of objects in nature—perhaps not unlike pencil drawings of leaves and undergrowth by Bill Richards, in the gallery’s front room. Their intricacy and precision approach all-over abstraction. In the back room, Richard Purdy derives his pleasantly out-of-control grids from an algorithm, like Sol LeWitt as a professor of computer science. Feldman, though, had in mind the math alone as artistic enough. The resulting aquatints look like chalk on a blackboard.

Be grateful that they, like indeed most artists, still prefer chalk to whiteboards and PowerPoint. Be grateful, too, that the contributors speak personally, from experience. Steven Weinberg, who won the Nobel Prize for uniting electricity and magnetism with the weak force that governs radioactivity, still marvels at his own discovery. “Just change a minus sign to a plus sign and the whole thing would be incoherent.” Most choose to illustrate their own work, although a few, like Donaldson, look back to its inspiration. The law governing an ordinary electromagnet led him to the “topology of four-dimensional spaces.” Stephen Smale looks all the way back to Sir Isaac Newton’s method for approximating the solution to otherwise insoluble equations.

Some texts accompanying the prints are difficult, but then so often is art. Murray Gell-Mann, who won the Nobel Prize for his theory of nature’s elementary particles, named their constituents quarks, after a line in James Joyce. Had, I once got to ask, he actually readFinnegans Wake? As much as anyone, he replied. Weinberg put his discovery in the form of another difficult quantity, a Lagrangian. To work with it, a physicist would minimize it – further testimony to the economy of art and nature.

All offer a take on beauty and its seductions. As Gell-Mann puts it, the work just felt good. Yet that, too, can be misleading—in his case, leading him to omit a term in a more complete theory. Symmetry “kept us from venturing into territory . . . not yet fully explored.” For David Mumford, the math “still feels . . . like a strange joke the creator is playing on us.” One might say the same about many a work of art.

Old fears and new twists

solimantPerhaps the most unnerving thing about Haunted Files is how easily it is haunted. That abandoned desk shoved so casually against the wall belongs, a subtitle insists, to the Eugenics Record Office. The clutter of office supplies and papers, spilling onto the floor, may hold information on me or you. Yet it seems ill designed for ready access to much of anything, much less high-tech secrets of the soul. And that for Noah Fuller and John Kuo Wei Tchen is half the point. People are haunted so easily, because fears may arise from almost nothing, but also because the threat may yet be real.

In a show called “Twisted Data,” one has every right to expect a new twist, but there, too, do not overlook what was there all along. If Haunted Files seems way too low tech for today, when it takes so little to map or to hack the human genome, an actual Eugenics Record Office opened more than a century ago at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island, where James D. Watson (a discoverer of the structure of DNA) later served as director, as fodder for laws to bar immigrants and to sterilize “inferior races” or the disabled. Fuller and Tchen claim to serve only as curators of its archives, much like Walid Raad in picturing death in the Middle East. Others rely on seriously dated and dangerous theories, like phrenology for Jeffrey Allen Price and Barbara Rosenthal or Nazi propaganda for Todd Herman. Still others rely on older media, such as archival prints, calligraphy, and even an Erector set. A gallery dedicated largely to artist books makes use of their delicacy and interiority as well.

The gallery devotes this room to group shows, often focused on art and science or natural histories. (In the interest of full disclosure, I have a stake in it, although I offer no advice on what goes into it.) And science and art have much in common, starting with their twin commitments to beauty and experience, but including their authority in western culture as well. Still, that can sound a little too optimistic, especially if one does not look closely enough at the sources of authority. Science has its dark and twisted side, too, in the flawed hands of humankind, while art practically depends on having it. If you prefer cheerful new twists on old dogs, you had better stick to Jeff Koons.

The word twisted also evokes the double helix, the secondary coiling of human chromosomes, and the mystery of what it means to be human. As for Fuller and Tchen, it raises questions about the denial of humanity to others, too. Rosary Solimanto’s construction of steel, glass, a surgical gown, and human hair calls itself Rise of the Cyborg. On video, she squeezes herself into something between a fetus and a human guinea pig. Melissa Stern’s Undesirables vary between headless clay and cut-off heads, but with glass “raccoon eyes.” The Erector set serves Sarah Stengle, along with bullets and bones, as a Reliquary for a Dead Dove.

Often as not, as in politics today, a denial of humanity latches onto the “otherness” of race.Haunted Files exhibited one year ago at New York University’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute. A silken accordion book for Geraldine Ondrizek comes in Shades o