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Infinite Beauty

Phiberspace by Doug McKenna
Infinite Beauty – an art exhibit inspired by mathematics is currently showing at Utah Valley University Library Fifth Floor Gallery and will continue through the month of March. The eclectic collection includes works from university students, as well as local and national professional artists presenting classical and modern paintings, digital prints and sculptures.

The Infinite Beauty exhibit explores the classical side of mathematical art by including a number of portraits, landscapes and figure drawings from Utah artists. Daniel Jonathan Fairbanks, the associate dean of the College of Science and Health at UVU is both a scientist and an artist. His charcoal and chalk drawings Kinsi and David demonstrate typical uses of geometry in classical art. During his lifetime, Avard Tennyson Fairbanks was a master sculptor and anatomist who followed the work of the ancient Greek sculptor Polykleitos who used mathematical proportions to define what he believed was the ideal human figure. On display in this exhibit is male torso by Avard which depicts these proportions, as well as the contraposto pose which was developed by the Greeks to lend a sense of movement and mathematical balance to the figure. Other Utah artists represented in the exhibit include Peter Myer, Wulf Barsch, Anna Campbell Bliss, David Dean, Craig Hone, Rett Ashby, Roland Thompson, Bob DeWitt, Andrew Kosorok, Cathy Erdmann, and James Gunter.

Increasingly more new and interesting works are being created by mathematical artists across the country. Infinite Beauty features the work of a number of such artists who explore recursive designs (Phiberspace by Doug McKenna, see above), fractal equations(Anasazi Suns by Michael Sussna, below), 3-dimensional geometry (Dragonflies by George Hart) and computer simulation of fluid flow (Boil by Mark Stock).

Anasazi Suns by Michael Sussna

The Art and Mathematics theme of this exhibit explores the unique beauty that can be found in and created through mathematics. One purpose of the exhibit at UVU is to raise greater appreciation among the student population for the usefulness of mathematics. Student artist Tammy Ballard said, “I’ve heard some artists say that they became artists because they weren’t very good at math. In my case, with out math, I don’t think my sculptures would be nearly as successful at conveying my allegorical messages.”

Altar of Apollo, by stained glass artist Andrew Kosorok, is representative of a math riddle from ancient history, yet holds a message for us today. The challenge of Apollo’s Oracle in 430 BC was never solved, perhaps because of an inability to think creatively at a frightening time in history. The story serves as a lesson to us that a mind clouded by fear can not think or create, but when the mind is allowed to see the beauty that is inherent in form and structure, we can produce marvelous creations.

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