Wednesday morning Ithaca was fully wrapped in fog and continuous rain, not much of its beauty to see through windows of Clark Hall on Cornell Campus. It was a nice contrast against this grey backdrop on the windowsills of 609 Clark to study colorful objects brought for a little pop-up exhibit by artist Martha Lewis.
Martha was visiting Cornell Physics Department, invited by Itai Cohen for just a day which was packed with lots of meetings but the very first one was her talk Explanatory Objects. Martha says about her work :My paintings contain technology-based elements purloined from engineering diagrams, architectural floor plans, electrical blueprints, maritime charts and other types of informational drawing. These images get combined into sprawling hybrid constructs, frequently using formats derived from carpet designs, modernist painting, and religious diagrams such as Mandalas and Tantric drawings.
Martha was trained as a painter but her work has stepped out of two-dimensionality in order to explore ideas. I would say that her "explanatory objects" are representations of the ideas she is exploring, visualization of this understanding be it an old mechanics book, astronomical manuscript, engineering diagram or just a title of an academic lecture that has intrigued her. Martha is very open to new ideas in science and exploring various ways to use them in her art - artist books, paintings in crumbled paper, installations...
I first met Martha when she was curating an exhibit Yarn Theory in PS122 Gallery, New York, in 2009. Her idea then how to exhibit my work was very clever and to this day one of the most successful ones:
|My crocheted series Manifolds are attached to the wall. (photo D. Guida)|
In Martha's busy schedule we both could find only the time to have a breakfast together Thursday morning before Martha was leaving - thanks, Martha, for our talk and for your generous sharing of ideas and inspirations. Hope one day finally to make it to your studio in New Haven :-) But for now I will listen to your radio show Live Culture.
I thought that with the topic of explanatory objects fits well a mention of a new work by Hamid Naderi Yeganeh - how to draw butterflies using circles.