Susan Happersett

My fascination with mathematics and my love of visual arts has led me on a journey to build a link between mathematics and drawing. It has become my mission to express the intrinsic aesthetic value of Mathematics in a purely visual language. I use a number of graphing and geometric plotting techniques to examine the aesthetic characteristics of functions, sequences and series in a visual language. My drawings are an intense accumulation of lines and mark making resulting from my predisposition to counting. These drawings have an inherent repetitiveness similar to knitting, weaving and lace making. Through the years my drawing has become a type of meditation.

The technique I use in the drawings that make up these two books is the repetition of self-similar forms through many iterations. By doing everything by hand there are slight imperfections that amplify and overlap, creating a sense of chaos.

Many of the mathematical sequences in my work involve growth patterns. One series of drawings is based on the correlation between plant growth and the Fibonacci Sequence (1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,…). I have also incorporated binary code, explored self-similarity and chaos theory. Through these drawings I hope to reveal the grace and balance in the mathematics of nature and technology.

Susan Happersett works in two, quite different, realms. Most of her work is based on mathematical themes in the form of drawings, paintings and artist books. Happersett’s work visualizes the Fibonacci Sequence, Chaos Theory, Fractals and other topics of Set Theory. She has a collaborative relationship with Purgatory Pie Press. Together they have published numerous limited edition, letterpress artist books of her mathematical drawings.

As a counter weight to this intense and sometimes obsessive mathematical work, Happersett has developed a practice of collage work, using vintage images to explore contemporary situations. In recent years, Happersett has produced 4 stop-motion animation videos based on math and collage topics.

Happersett has written a large number of academic articles on the relationship between mathematics and art and is a current member of the editorial board of the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts.

Happersett exhibits frequently, both in the United States and abroad. Her work is in the collections of MoMa, SFMOMA, the Getty, Tate, Brooklyn Museum, Harvard, Yale, Stanford and many other public and private collections.

Susan Happersett has graduate degrees in both mathematics and art. She is an associate editor of the Journal of Mathematics and the Art and recently guest edited the special issue “Artists’ Viewpoints”.

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