People generally accept that snowflakes are unique, each and everyone of them. it could so easily be thought otherwise since there is a structural precision to snowflakes that implies a manufactured origin. Similar to all other things in nature however the laws of physics establish the possibilities of forms within both the inorganic and the organic world but without exact duplication. Organization of matter can be both predictable and infinitely variable and this is a tough idea to wrap ones head around - especially when things can look so similar to one another.
We are capable of understanding many complex things but our senses and our brains do have limitations and we have learned to reduce some of these limitations by extending our senses through our inventions. Our knowledge of snowflakes was enhanced by the microscope and the camera for example. Our understanding of the limb and torso movements of animals in motion was dramatically improved through the work of Edward Muybridge who documented this in a frame by frame sequence of photos. The running gait of a horse is difficult to comprehend in real time by eye and brain and the mechanical assist of the camera dramatically helped people understand this better. Art also changed as a result and for the first time horses running were depicted more accurately than they had been in the past.
Our brains simplify, lump, and chunk most every complex idea because endless variations are too complicated to include within a single thought or idea. As an artist I’m driven to better understand water and it’s ever changing appearance. Like snowflakes wave formations in water can behave as though there is repetitive patterning but this isn’t strictly accurate. There is an underlying order to the basic forms we see in every set of conditions. We create simple mental models to explain complex ideas and people in the know will communicate with these models along with a wink and a nod sharing the understanding that reality isn’t quite so simple. The simple models make it easier to talk about complex ideas and the continuous reshaping of models helps advance communication.
In this series I include a repeated crescent shape as a nod to the mechanical model for a wave as seen from above but then use color and form on the surface to suggest endless variation. The ideas I include in my graphic embellishments come from many sources: my sketchbooks, personal observation, and depictions of water in art and illustration.
2019 Birds in Art
Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum:
September 7 – December 1, 2019
25700 North 12th Street
Wausau, WI 54403
My screen print Ogishkimanisi is included in the 2019 Birds in Art exhibit at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. Following the opening weekend the museum has indicated that they will be purchasing the piece for their permanent collection and include it in the National tour following the exhibit in Wausau.