Paige Cohen ‘21,
On Monday, September 17, the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery hosted a Gallery Talk by Michael Beatty, an Associate Professor in the Visual Arts Department. Beatty teaches classes in sculpture and three-dimensional design, and he is represented by the Krakow Whitkin Gallery in Boston. The Gallery Talk came as part of the Cantor Art Gallery’s current exhibition, entitled, “SUMMA: Visual Arts Faculty 2018.” Roger Hankins, director of the Cantor Art Gallery, describes SUMMA as “a collection of recent work produced in the last three years and highlight[ing] the current artistic explorations of the Visual Arts faculty.”
In his talk, Beatty discussed his contributions to SUMMA: a collection of small-scale sculptures produced using a combination of 3-D printing and sculpture. Beatty described his inspiration for this collection as stemming from curiosity about the intersection of art and science, the use of mathematical models in describing the natural world, and the boundary between the digital and physical worlds. In his work, he aims to create pieces with “emotive geometry,” using shapes to affect the emotions of his audience.
Beatty’s section of the SUMMA exhibition features two main installations, entitled “Garden of Algorithmic Delights” and “Equipoise.”
“Garden of Algorithmic Delights,” completed between 2017 and 2018, is a table installation, featuring 10 3-D printed and sculpted objects. The size and scale of the table and objects are partially based on the mathematical concept of “golden ratios,” approximately equal to 1.618, and traditionally said to make visually “pleasing” shapes. Beatty continues his exploration of mathematical models in “Garden of Algorithmic Delights” by manipulating mathematical formulas and shapes, such as icosahedrons, to create interesting and eye-catching digitally-printed objects. The pieces are loosely modeled on a variety of ideas and real-world objects, ranging from the Big Bang to cancerous tumors.
“Equipoise,” a wall installation, presents pieces that are striking for their hybrid nature, created by a clear fusion of 3-D printing and sculpture techniques. Beatty especially noted the pieces’ expression of balance and exploration of how markedly different processes, materials, and shapes can coexist in harmony and beauty.
Beatty said that his work has left him with some lingering questions: What is the difference in value of something handmade versus digitally made? Is the difference important? Are these works of art finished or are they models for future work? Whatever the answer to these questions, Beatty stated his belief that “the meaning of a work of art is always a dialogue between the artists’ attention and the viewer’s interpretation.” Meaning is not something fixed for Beatty, but rather a continuing conversation. His works in SUMMA, in leaving some open-ended questions, encourage such conversation.
Beatty’s pieces and the rest of the SUMMA exhibition will remain on display in the Cantor Art Gallery until October 12, 2018. Photographs of the pieces can also be viewed on the College website, under the “Arts & Culture” tab. The next Cantor Art Gallery talk will be on Thursday, September 27, featuring Rachelle Beaudouin, a lecturer in the Visual Arts department. Professor Beaudouin will present her work in feminist performance art.