Mathematics and Arts, as languages, conceptual technology and philosophy not only play a foundational role in our understanding of physical reality, but also shape the essence of human creativity. The mathematical instinct, which moves fluidly across the various elements of nature and human culture, leaves convincing evidence from bee hives to quilting circles that mathematics, art and community are profound partners in the search for truth, beauty and spirit.
But when mathematics and art—parameters of human cognition—are quilted together as Mathematical Art, structure and spirit meet in a metaphysical communion of heightened vision. Multimedia artist, John Sims, has curated over 15 mathematical art shows, including the year long exhibition: Rhythm of Structure: Mathematics, Art and Poetic Reflection, featuring Sol Lewitt, Adrian Piper, Karen Finley and Dread Scott, and has created the signature project, SquareRoots: A Quilted Manifesto—a collection of 13 math art quilts, five Pi dresses, a 12 bar blues based on Pi, The Pi Anthem Music Video and a concrete mathart video poem performed by the artist’s alter ego- Johannes Curtis Schwarzenstein, the AfroGermanJewishMathArtPoet.
SquareRoots: A Quilted Manifesto is a call to recognize that mathematical art—as world art—flows through fundamental elements of human culture and physical reality as a universal voice of nature, where periodicity meets randomness, form meets spirit and truth meets meaning. This collection of works spans the areas of visual mathematics, art, craft, fashion, video and poetry. The central project consists of 13 mathart quilts based on the number Pi and Pythagorean mathematics done with Amish quilters from Sarasota Florida; 5 Pi Dresses that explore issues around the body, race and combinatorial diversity; a 12-bar blues based on Pi recorded by Kenny Drew Jr. and the Pi Day Anthem featuring John Sims and Vi Hart. The project also includes a concrete mathart poem, performed in a video in German by Johannes Curtis Schwarzenstein, the AfroGermanJewishMathArtPoet—the artist’s alter ego.
Rhythm of Structure is a collection of mathematical art exhibitions, writing projects and films, in collaboration with hundreds of artists, writers and performers organized by John Sims to bring the connection of mathematics in the arts to a wider community. This sequence of exhibitions started with MathArt in Harlem at the Fire Patrol #5 Gallery in 2003 and Mathematical Aesthetic at the Wilmer Jennings Gallery in New York City in 2004, leading to the one-year, nine-part exhibition Rhythm of Structure: Mathematics, Art and Poetic Reflection at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC in 2009, which traveled later in 2011 on to Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL, and Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH.
Ringling College of Art and Design, 2002, Curated by John Sims and Kevin Dean
Mathematics has been our greatest tool in seeing the invisible, counting the infinite and understanding the unimaginable. Mathematics is not just about numbers, shapes and angles; it is also about the search for structures, connections (equivalences) and provable statements. Viewed as language, mathematics seeks to crystallize with grand clarity a narrative of the geometry of form and patterns. Viewed as conceptual technology, mathematical thinking has been an indispensable agent in the development of both modern science and philosophy. Viewed as conceptual art, mathematics both creates and discovers abstract structures and realities with its own strong aesthetic, proving to be a great ally in negotiating the beautiful complexities of abstraction and symbolic communication.