NatureVolve

Peer­ing into sa­cred sym­me­try with Chris­tine Ro­manell

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Artist Chris­tine Ro­manell brings the hid­den math­e­mat­ics of the world to life in a ra­dial, col­or­ful way. Hav­ing been in­spired by sa­cred ge­om­e­try and in­trigu­ing math­e­mat­i­cal laws, her art­works are nu­mer­i­cally and tra­di­tion­ally sym­bolic but also cap­ti­vat­ing to the eye. In ad­di­tion to sci­ence, is­lamic art has greatly in­flu­enced her cre­ations, as she ex­plains to us.

Q & A - Chris­tine Ro­manell

In your art­work, how do you rep­re­sent non­re­peat­ing pat­terns ob­served in cos­mol­ogy and physics? What in­spired you to start do­ing this?

I was not sat­is­fied mak­ing ab­stract paint­ings us­ing repet­i­tive marks. In an ef­fort to move be­yond the edge of the can­vas, I ex­plored dif­fer­ent types of pat­terns. I came across the Pen­rose tiling cre­ated by math­e­ma­ti­cian/ physi­cist Dr. Roger Pen­rose. This pat­tern uses two rhomb shapes - one skinny and one fat - that tes­sel­late cov­er­ing the space of a plane com­pletely with no gaps and never re­peats. The an­gles of the rhombs fol­low a 72, 108, 72, and 108 de­gree ro­ta­tion.

Ro­ta­tional sym­me­try re­peats dif­fer­ence (not same­ness like your typ­i­cal square bath­room tile.) Non-re­peat­ing pat­terns ap­peal to me be­cause they al­lude to the in­fi­nite. The hu­man per­spec­tive of re­al­ity lim­its the ex­pe­ri­ence of in­fin­ity since there is al­ways a bound­ary that we can­not see be­yond. Each of my pieces work to break the bar­rier for the eye, al­beit un­suc­cess­fully, with hopes to al­low the imag­i­na­tion to fill in the pos­si­bil­i­ties of what is be­yond.

Your pieces look im­pres­sively geo­met­ric and pre­cise. Please take us through the tech­ni­cal and creative process in­volved in pro­duc­ing your works.

The most im­por­tant fac­tors for me are light and mo­tion in the fi­nal work. I want the ob­server to be pulled into a visual grav­ity well. I use Adobe Il­lus­tra­tor for sketch­ing and color choice which al­lows me a tremen­dous amount of pre­ci­sion.

With­out that pre­ci­sion the il­lu­sion wouldn’t be as pow­er­ful. Usu­ally, I start with a sin­gle shape: ei­ther a rec­tan­gle, el­lipse or a free­land form.

Us­ing a va­ri­ety of de­gree an­gles for ro­ta­tion, I step and re­peat the form un­til it com­pletes a cir­cle.

Once I land on a pat­tern that feels bal­anced and har­mo­nious, I move onto work­ing out the color and sep­a­rate the dig­i­tal draw­ing into lay­ers. At this point, the de­sign is ready to be sent out to be laser cut. My three main ma­te­ri­als are wood, plexi glass and pa­per. I work with the fab­ri­ca­tor for ma­te­ri­als selec­tion and some­times the Illustrati­on needs ad­just­ment be­fore it can be cut.

Once I re­ceive the cuts back - usu­ally 16 or more lay­ers of ma­te­rial - I paint and glue ev­ery­thing to­gether for the fi­nal work. Each stage re­quires attention to de­tail to bring out the beauty in the pat­tern.

“Sa­cred ge­om­e­try vi­su­al­izes a num­ber in space that is hold­ing a deeper mean­ing con­nected to the ori­gins of cre­ation... The self-sim­i­lar­ity of ro­ta­tional sym­me­try is a key de­vice that I em­ploy in my work.”

How is your art in­flu­enced by Is­lamic pat­tern­ing and forms of sa­cred ge­om­e­try? Do frac­tals play a role too?

As a teenager, I vis­ited Seville (Spain) and saw Is­lamic tiles for the first time. I gazed up at the in­tri­cate pat­terns on the ceil­ings of old mosques, feel­ing like I was look­ing up at the stars, into in­fin­ity it­self.

Sa­cred ge­om­e­try vi­su­al­izes a num­ber in space that is hold­ing a deeper mean­ing con­nected to the ori­gins of cre­ation.

The goal of the ceil­ings in mosques is to bring a feel­ing of god/the sa­cred to the faith­ful. Lit­tle did I know then how much that ex­pe­ri­ence would in­flu­ence me as an artist. The Pen­rose tiling is sim­i­lar to the girih tiling found in mosques in Iran. Both are con­sid­ered a frac­tal pat­tern.

The tiles can be scaled up or scaled down us­ing the Golden Ra­tio. Also, the tiles can be ‘dec­o­rated’ math­e­mat­i­cally, mean­ing the forms can be di­vided us­ing the Golden Ra­tio which also points to the frac­tal na­ture of the tilings. The self-sim­i­lar­ity of ro­ta­tional sym­me­try is a key de­vice that I em­ploy in my work.

For ex­am­ple, in “Se­taareh Do” (2019) [first page of ar­ti­cle] I use the pen­rose tiling as a base but then ‘dec­o­rate’ the tiles by di­vid­ing them. Mov­ing on from such a di­rect in­ter­pre­ta­tion, a re­cent piece “Con­junc­tion” (2020) [pre­vi­ous page], uses ro­ta­tional sym­me­try for the main form and then the golden ra­tio for de­fla­tion of the satel­lites.

How has the pan­demic af­fected your art prac­tice and what are your next plans for the fu­ture?

It’s not been nearly as bad as I thought it would be from an artis­tic viewpoint. I’ve been more pro­duc­tive this year, than be­fore Covid. My laser cut­ting fab­ri­ca­tor had to shut down be­cause of the pan­demic, so I had to find an­other way to work.

I had time and space to ex­plore new ma­te­rial. I in­ves­ti­gated the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of a desk­top dig­i­tal pa­per cut­ting ma­chine. Us­ing lay­ers of pa­per and acrylic gouache, I was able to pro­duce small works on pa­per. It’s a nice way to work and ex­per­i­ment with de­signs be­fore I move onto the more ex­pen­sive wood or plex­i­glass fab­ri­ca­tions.

I had a solo show sched­uled for March 2021 in New Jersey, but the mu­seum closed down be­cause of Covid. Right now, I’m quar­an­tin­ing be­cause my hus­band just tested pos­i­tive for the virus. We are all symp­tom-free at the mo­ment and hop­ing it stays that way. I ex­pect to get back into the stu­dio as soon as our quar­an­tine pe­riod is over and put 2020 be­hind me (as I’m sure many peo­ple hope to do as well.) I have a res­i­dency sched­uled in Novem­ber 2021 at Chateau d’Orque­vaux in France and am hope­ful that I’ll be able to at­tend.

Fi­nal thoughts

Chris­tine Ro­manell cre­ates unique math­e­mat­i­cal works of art in­spired by forms found in sa­cred ge­om­e­try, tra­di­tion and sci­ence.

Ra­dial, math­e­mat­i­cally ac­cu­rate, and col­or­fully mes­meris­ing, Chrsi­tine cap­ti­vates the beauty of the math­e­mat­i­cal world. Like many, she looks to leave the year of 2020 in the past when she be­gins a new chap­ter in 2021 - at Chateau d’Orque­vaux in France.

Artist Bio

Chris­tine Ro­manell’s col­or­ful wall sculp­tures and in­stal­la­tions ex­plore non-re­peat­ing pat­terns in­formed by cos­mol­ogy and physics, while root­ing it­self in ap­plied de­sign sim­i­lar to Is­lamic pat­tern­ing. Her use of ro­ta­tional sym­me­try to gen­er­ate di­men­sional forms al­lude to move­ment and cre­ate an event hori­zon - a space where the in­fi­nite tes­sel­la­tions of uni­ver­sal physics can in­ter­sect with pat­terns - col­laps­ing the di­vide be­tween the the­o­ret­i­cal and the real.

Links

Web­site: www.christiner­o­manell.com

In­sta­gram: @csro­manell

Email: cr@christiner­o­manell.com

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 ??  ?? Above: Se­taareh , 2017, Acrylic on Laser Cut wood, 45 x 45 x 2 in. Be­low: Flame, 2020, Acrylic On Wood, 31.5 x 31.5 x 3 in.
Both im­ages: © Chris­tine Ro­manell. All rights re­served.
Above: Se­taareh , 2017, Acrylic on Laser Cut wood, 45 x 45 x 2 in. Be­low: Flame, 2020, Acrylic On Wood, 31.5 x 31.5 x 3 in. Both im­ages: © Chris­tine Ro­manell. All rights re­served.
 ??  ?? Left: Point Con­junc­tion, 2020, Acrylic on Laser Cut wood, 27 x 36.5 x 4 in. © Chris­tine Ro­manell.
All rights re­served.
Left: Point Con­junc­tion, 2020, Acrylic on Laser Cut wood, 27 x 36.5 x 4 in. © Chris­tine Ro­manell. All rights re­served.
 ??  ?? Be­low: Quasi One , 2019, Light art, acrylic, LEDs and Ar­drino, 21 x 22.5 x 4 in. © Chris­tine Ro­manell. All rights re­served.
Be­low: Quasi One , 2019, Light art, acrylic, LEDs and Ar­drino, 21 x 22.5 x 4 in. © Chris­tine Ro­manell. All rights re­served.
 ??  ?? Above: Tem­pesta Verde, 2020, Gouache on pa­per, 11 x 11 in. © Chris­tine Ro­manell. All rights re­served.
Above: Tem­pesta Verde, 2020, Gouache on pa­per, 11 x 11 in. © Chris­tine Ro­manell. All rights re­served.

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