Exploring Visual Arts across Madison
Oct 23, 2013
01:45 PM

Creative Combinations at the Wisconsin Union Galleries

Creative Combinations at the Wisconsin Union Galleries

Interesting forms have taken over the Wisconsin Union Galleries. Beautiful beings seem to twist, turn and grow before you in the Class of 1925 Gallery in the Memorial Union, and in the adjacent room, rebar has transformed into a minimalist landscape in the Porter Butts Gallery.

In Balls of Light and Columns of Smoke: Surfaces in Hyperbolic Crochet, Ayelet Lindenstrauss Larsen and Gabriele Meyer showcase a stunning application of math. The two mathematicians have created large- and small-scale hyperbolic forms out of crochet.

In an exhibition statement, the artists explain that a hyperbolic plane is a type of two-dimensional object in which every point looks like every other point. But in these planes, “if you start looking at concentric circles, their circumferences grow ‘too quickly.’” This “extra” grows exponentially, resulting in wild ruffles and curls.

The forms occur naturally in some shells, algae and leaves, but Larsen and Meyer create theirs by hand, in boldly hued and white yarn. Meyer hangs her larger works from the ceiling, allowing them to turn and interact within the space.

Larsen, in contrast, displays her tiny forms inside miniature room-boxes, a clever way to play with scale. Though her pieces are small, they feel otherwise. She writes: “when I hold them in the palm of my hand they do not feel small. The explosive growth of their boundaries gives them power, and the power reads as big.”

While one might expect an artistic examination of a mathematical form to be carried out in a high-tech, computerized manner, the surprising use of a traditional craft instead is a stirring and deeply satisfying choice.

In the next room, Suzanne Torres explores the dualities of the modern world in De-Constructed Environments.

Her “Solitary Skin” installation spans the gallery floor. The steely rebar material and grid-like form reference cities, construction and urban architecture, yet the organic shape resembles an undulating landscape. Its sleek, almost skeletal shape abstracts and distills the idea of the environment down to its essence.

In a statement about the exhibition, Torres writes: “My intention is to devise an alternative landscape embedded in the dualities that construct our habitats—the natural and artificial, the surreal and intimate, the contrived and happenstance—by manipulating the language of materials most commonly associated with our constructed settings and mundane usage.”

By her hand, the combination of hard, human-made materials and a free-flowing, natural form feels like a most accurate reflection of the modern environment.

Both De-Constructed Environments and Balls of Light and Columns of Smoke run through October 29 at the Memorial Union. For more information, visit union.wisc.edu.

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About This Blog

A perk of being managing editor of Madison Magazine is the opportunity to delve into exciting aspects of the city—and Madison's art scene is one of my favorites. It's dynamic, diverse and always inspiring. Join me here for artist interviews, details on events, exhibition previews, reviews and more.

Find past arts coverage on my former blog.

– Katie Vaughn
Follow Katie on Twitter @katiemv

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