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Where Math Meets Art in Takoma Park

What color is an equation? Exhibit and presentation hope to change perspectives on math and art.

The words "math" and "science" aren’t usually associated with creativity and art.

But the Mathematically Inclined: Artists’ Presentation event and exhibit is designed to change that preconception.

The presentation, April 5 at 7 p.m., accompanies an exhibit on mathematically inclined art that includes paintings, digital prints, jewelry, and craft, among other art forms, according to Shanthi Chandra Sekar, Takoma Park exhibitions director. 

Sekar said she wanted to do this exhibit partly because her own work is inspired by science, math, psychology and philosophy. However, she said the main impetus was the international Bridges Math Art Conference and art show held at Towson University, which Sekar attended and where she said she was thrilled to find several local artists represented.

“There are 12 artists in this show and they are all from very varied backgrounds ranging from math teachers to computer professionals to engineers,” Sekar said. "I chose these artists as their work complements each other even though they are very varied.”

The exhibit at the Takoma Park Community Center includes a jewelry exhibit near the entrance and art pieces lining the walls and hanging from the ceiling.

There are knitted three-dimensional patterns with mathematical equations in the art description underneath, colorful kolam quilts, and art with intricate geometrical patterns.

Lauren Kingsland, who made the kolam quilts, said she got the inspiration after traveling to Tamil Nadu, India, and seeing how women there made the quilts in a sort of “meditative process.” Kingsland said she hopes that this exhibit shows how art can be “less compartmental.” 

To the left of the entrance is art with geometrical patterns and curves, colorful images, and art pieces made from steel wires. 

“I wanted to produce an image, a particular distribution of colors that had some sense of balance, but not perfect symmetry…These properties were then expressed as mathematical equations and used to produce a computer-generated image,” Robert Spann said, in an email, concerning his work “Gradient 0119.” 

Artist Margaret Kepner’s art pieces were archival-quality digital prints produced using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, according to Kepner in an email.

Of her piece “Prime Goose Chase,” Kepner said she “treated the subject of factoring numbers using a format based on a traditional quilt pattern called 'Wild Goose Chase.' Each of the numbers from 1 to 256 is factored, or broken down, into its prime factors, but this is shown in terms of colors, rather than with math symbols.”

The presentation and exhibit aim to show how math and art are not mutually exclusive.  

“I hope people looking at this exhibit will see the true beauty of mathematics that is expressed in these images," Spann said. "In particular, I hope that schoolchildren who may be struggling with math or dislike math see this exhibit and say, ‘Wow – you can do that with math,’” Spann said.

The “Mathematically Inclined” exhibit will run until May 6.

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