Wednesday, May 20, 2009

the Art of Brenna Maag: Doilies and Science

i went to the Richmond Art Gallery sunday afternoon specifically to the see the current exhibits Navigating the Uncertainty Principle and Observation of Wonder, since sunday was the last day. the exhibits showed the work of two artists, Brenna Maag and Ingrid Koenig, but it was Brenna Maag's Observation of Wonder that i was determined to see.

she uses DOILIES! if you've been around long enough to see some of of my past doily projects, you'll know about my love of doilies! there was the pink doily purse, which was the first one, and totally started the obsession, as well as multiple doily skirts (oddly enough, very similar ones appeared in Crochet Today after i made my first few!). i have several large doily projects planned, and i've been collecting them for it. i love them for a multitude of reasons, but the main one is the amount of work and love that went into the creation of each one. it makes me so sad to see doilies in the thrift store being sold for $1, when i think of the huge amount of time it took to make it.

it was really really cool to see someone else using them in such an interesting way.

she intertwined art and science in a really fascinating way, categorizing doilies into "families" based on their design, much how scientists categorize plant life into "families" using the principle of "taxonomy".

to continue with the scientific theme, she made cyanotype prints of the doilies, a technique used to illustrate plant life by an early scientist, Anna Atkins.

(photo from

cyanotype is a super fascinating, yet also super easy, technique, something i've wanted to play with for quite some time. i've also seen cyanotype quilts, which are SO amazing, and super inspiring! (there's a great tutorial on instructables for making cyanotype prints using negatives as well)

(photo from

after categorizing the doilies, she made the prints of them, including the names that she had given them, based on latin, and then categorized them into species and families. (check out her website for pictures of her process)

(photo from

isn't that amazing? what a fabulous combination of science, art, and traditional doilies!

that alone would have been worth the trip, but there was more! in addition to the cyanotypes, she also created a 9ft tall dome of doilies.

(photo from

(photo from

it was amazing to walk inside it and be surrounded by doilies on all sides.

(photo from

the doilies are all adhered to white cotton on the inside of the dome, creating a really neat texture on the outside of the dome as well.

she uses only white and cream doilies, unlike my brightly coloured ones, and they create a very tranquil space.

(photo from

it reminded me so much of watching the northern lights when i was in the Yukon years ago. Northern lights are very very rare here, but i remember them vividly from my childhood on the prairies, spreading across the sky. in the Yukon, because you are so far north, the northern lights seem to be in a dome around you, like a cathedral. it's incredibly beautiful, and almost spiritual.

the Richmond Art Gallery has a ATC trading group that meets once a month. they have monthly themes that relate to the art gallery's current exhibitions, though they are not required. the theme for may is patterns, and the last few days i've been playing with some fabric ATCs that show patterns. tonight is the trading session for May, and i'm going to go and take my pattern ATCs. i'm excited, actually, i've never traded ATCs in person before!

(note that all photos are from they wouldn't allow me to take pictures in the gallery itself.)


KT said...

Doily phylogeny? As a biologist, this amuses me and kind of upsets me. Not sure why it upsets me, though. It is neato.

Emily said...

I love all those works! The dome looks gorgeous!

amy dame said...

emily, i somehow knew that you would! i was wishing that you'd have a chance to see it in person!

kt, i'm sorry! it's really interesting that it kinda of upsets you though, i wonder why?

Related Posts with Thumbnails