The Botany of Math(re): An Exploration of Numbers and Nature

Exhibit by Susie Mathre

Dive into the intriguing world of intersecting relationships between plants, mathematics, and the patterns they create. Seeds and leaves of local noxious and invasive weeds, metal, wood, glass, and other elements, come together to investigate intriguing geometric shapes, spirals, symmetries and mathematical puzzles found in nature.

Jessie Wilber Gallery
March 12 – April 30, 2021

Artist Statement

This body of work is my exploration into the intersecting relationships between plants, mathematics, and the patterns they create. It encompasses sculpture that probes local noxious and invasive weeds, art that investigates the mathematical spirals and symmetries found in the majority of plants, and framed pieces that incorporate leaves to illustrate graph theory, intriguing geometric shapes, and math puzzles.

My interest began with plants that caught my eye; those that were sharp, grasping, or shapely. Their patterns, sequencing of growth, and tenacity sparked my curiosity and channeled me to create these pieces, along with a desire to improve my skills in working with steel, other metals, and beeswax. My wish to understand the plant dynamics I saw made me revisit long forgotten algebra and geometry. That led me to research ancient astronomers and mathematicians, and finally developed into learning about graph theory in order to incorporate the concepts into my work.

Each piece generally takes me anywhere from a month to several months to complete, requiring trial and error, constructing prototypes, and breaking several saw blades in the process. With every piece, I learn something new: a new tool, a new technique, or a new math concept that is a little beyond my comprehension and requires a long time to understand it. But ultimately, the joy of creating never ceases. – Susie Mathre

Artist Bio

Susie Mathre is an artist living and working in Bozeman, Montana. As the daughter of botanists, she spent many hours in the family garden and also enjoyed exploring all things mechanical. She attended the University of Oregon, where she majored in fine art, taking a variety of studio classes, including printmaking, photography, letterpress printing and fiber arts. She graduated with a BFA in Fiber Arts in 1989.

Before becoming a full-time artist, she worked for the Community Food Co-op in Bozeman for over 20 years designing and fabricating signs and creating limited edition letterpress posters. She was fortunate to acquire a Vandercook Universal 1 letterpress in the early 1990s, (and thousands of pounds of lead type) which she currently uses in conjunction with metals, encaustic wax, and plant materials.

She is a recipient of a MAGDA (Montana Art Gallery Directors Association) traveling exhibition grant, and won Awards for Excellence for Distinctive Downtown Signage (The Co-op Downtown), and Sculptured Landscape from the City of Bozeman.

Thank you to the following sponsors for generously supporting this exhibit and our Schools & Seniors in the Gallery Program:

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