End of Semester Exhibit

I presented my first solo exhibition in the Shed Space behind Trahern at Austin Peay State University. This was a culmination of my work so far on sculptures inspired by knot theory. It consisted of 4 distinct works, one of which was broken into smaller parts. The following photos are a visual walk-through of the exhibition.

I included the original plaster trefoil sculpture which turned out to be the only one I’ve produced. All the others had broken or went wrong, but I mounted fragments of the failures on the wall. Five sets of manilla and cotton rope were used to do a translation of real world knots into mathematical versions. The usual knots were mounted on the wall. Below each one was a cotton rope of the same knot with the ends taped together which the viewer was encouraged to pick up and play. The large unknot took up one end of the space and cast some very nice shadows. This piece seemed to be most interesting to the audience. I think it’s size coupled with the surprising news that it was really just a circle helped to bring attention to it.

Overall the show was fairly successful from my point of view. I conveyed most of what I had intended with the work, and the interest level was higher than I had expected. I heard many good things. One of the shelves fell off the wall, and the manipulative objects were not as clearly labeled as I had hoped. I may need to do a planned presentation at the next event. Speaking of which, my intentions with the beginning of the new year will be to make more work based on knots and have one more gallery show. I’ll be bringing the plaster trefoil to the JMM Art Exhibit in Seattle in a couple of weeks. For now, I’m going on break!

End of Semester Exhibit

Working on gallery

I’m typing this a bit after the fact, but here is an update! As the end of the semester approached, I worked to put together a gallery style exhibition of knot theory. My plan was to have “real world” knots and their mathematical counterparts, along with some larger more sculptural examples of a few of the knots. I wanted some hands-on aspect to the show, as well as some sculptures in more of a museum artifact type of situation.

I also planned on having an example of the application of knot theory which was inspired by this paper: Knots and braids on the Sun. I hadn’t tried to make a spherical object from plaster yet, but I had thought about it before. I emulated an approach I had seen in a globe making video somewhere a couple of years ago. It worked pretty well and was a lot of fun.

ball
Sun sculpture in progress

After getting this initial hemisphere, I added tubes filled with plaster as I had made in an earlier project. The plaster helped them to hold a certain curvature. I then colored everything sorts of orange and yellow. A bit of it went a little pink. It was supposed to be an abstract representation of solar ejections coming out of the sun in a braid-like pattern. It was interesting, but I did not include it in the final show. I may consider it again, however, if I ever make a series of playground equipment.

sun
Sun Sculpture

To wrap up this post I will show before and after photos of a ~25m rope representing a basic unknot structure which was later moved into a more complicated ambient isotopy of the unknot. Forgive me if I use any words a little incorrectly… I’m still just learning!

Working on gallery

Still Working

It’s been a while since the last update. The middle of the semester hit, and things were a bit of a whirlwind. I took a bit of a break from the primary objective to make some thing inspired by knots, but perhaps not directly related. I did a mini presentation of work I’ve made thus far and got feedback from friends and mentors. Using all of this, I’m working now to have another exhibit, this time I little bigger, in a few weeks. It will be my first solo exhibit!

A Complicated Unknot

Artifacts from process and mishap.
Artifacts from process and mishap.
A tangled mess.
A tangled mess.
A table of knots.
A table of knots.
Still Working

Knots on display

So this was the first day I wanted to have some solid work to present, and I have something at least. I’ll leave it up to the viewer to decide how “solid” it is. I finally got a tube sculpture to come out without breaking. I also decided to wrap a rope in a “sock” that was custom made by Laura Zahn. I took those two objects and one of the broken pieces of knot from last week and put them on display for a few hours today. I feel quite accomplished so far, and I think I’ll be ready to submit to some conferences soon. Next week, I’ll continue to think about some tube stuff since it was so nice. I sort of got off my schedule where I had meant to have some stick sculptures already. I’ll get to work on that, too, but the idea is pretty simple and so shouldn’t take much work. The big things (or at least time consuming) are 3D printing and … some mold making technique that Virginia has learned. I’ll probably work with some of the standard silicone mold making style I’ve done before, as well. Here are the pictures of the completed objects I displayed today:

Complete trefoil knot made from hydrocal
Complete trefoil knot made from hydrocal
Trefoil rope wrapped in black cloth
Trefoil rope wrapped in black cloth
Three completed objects on display behind a fence
Three completed objects on display behind a fence
Knots on display

Almost and More

I gave another go at the tube. This time I cut it open first and taped it back together for easier removal. I plugged one end with tape, and poured in hydrocal before tying the knot so I could fill the tube easily. I also wrapped a piece of metal flashing around the ends and clamped it on to make connecting the ends of the tubes a little more solid that just trying to duct tape it. It all worked out pretty well. There was leakage through the cut, the hydrocal started setting before I was done pouring, and I broke the sculpture at the very last moment of removing the tube.

The leaking isn’t a big deal as the small ridges that form can be sanded down. I’m a little nervous sanding it because I don’t want to break it. It is already broken in two spots, but it was a pretty clean break that seems fixable. The hydrocal setting so fast was just me taking too long. Overall it was a vast improvement over the first attempt.

Slightly broken trefoil knot cast in hydrocal.
Slightly broken trefoil knot cast in hydrocal.

In other news, the burlap ribbon looks okay. It isn’t perfect, but I’m happy with it until I can think of something different. It actually looks good on the small ropes, but not so well on the larger braids. I also found some cool pool vacuum hose to use. I was going to use it as a mold, but I sort of like it how it is.

Burlap ribbon covering.
Burlap ribbon covering.
Pool vacuum hose trefoil knot.
Pool vacuum hose trefoil knot.
Almost and More

Delight in Defeat

So my first tube with plaster in it just didn’t work out how I planned. I have a lot of ideas for how to do it better next time, but meanwhile I’m actually pretty happy with this little broken pieces of knot that I have. There are a couple of larger segments leftover that I found lovely. They sort of resemble ribs, reminding me of that big piece of meat that Fred Flinstone ordered at a restaurant in the opening. The white plaster lends to the bone look.

A piece of broken knot sculpture on a table.
A piece of broken knot sculpture on a table.
Back lit photo of the broken knot segment.
Back lit photo of the broken knot segment.
Delight in Defeat

First Tube

This tube idea presented a lot of problems which I lacked the foresight to consider. I will be making more attempts this week, but for now I have a little plaster in some PVC tubing. There were air pockets where the plaster had settled because the tube wasn’t full, and the end were incredibly hard to position correctly. I have a couple of plans to deal with these problems, but tubes full of plaster are another great accidental discovery. I might come back to this sort of thing because it’s given me lots of ideas. That might be the future, but now is knots.

Tube with plaster
Tube with plaster
First Tube