Math and art come together at Industry City as MoMath and Escher exhibit host tours

Math and art have joined forces at Sunset Park’s Industry City.

The massive waterfront complex was the site of a collaboration between the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) and Industry’s City new exhibit Escher: The Exhibition and Experience. The space features over 200 works by the iconic Dutch artist.

According to MoMath Director Cindy Lawrence, the collaboration came about after Johanna Guttman of Arthemisia, the Italian company that produced the exhibition, reached out to her.

“Escher is a really unique artist in that he wasn’t a mathematician and yet a lot of his artwork conveys some deep mathematical topics and ideas,” Lawrence said. “Symmetry, self-repetition and all kinds of geometric shapes, like lots of tessellations and tiling, are embedded into his artwork. People who like his art are drawn to learning about math. People who like math and may not be big art fans are drawn into learning about his artistry.

“So to me this is very aligned in what MoMath is trying to do, which is show people that math isn’t the same as arithmetic,” she said.  “It’s not just a bunch of steps. It’s actually a cultural endeavor that relates to different areas that we see around us in the world. Math can be fun, exploratory, creative. At its heart, I believe math is an aesthetic endeavor.”

Elucidating the exhibition earlier this month was M.C. Escher expert, Dave Masunaga — a presidential teaching award winner in Hawaii who has a long-standing relationship with MoMath, the only museum of math in all of North America and the only hands-on science center in Manhattan — who led two tours of the exhibition, at 34 34th Street, Building 6 on Friday, July 13.

“This is one of the largest exhibits on the works of M.C. Escher in the U.S.,” he said. “It’s an extraordinary experience for those who come to see the original works as Escher produced them. These are not reproductions. They are the real thing and and it’s eye-opening not only to see them in scale but to see the amount of detail that went into producing each one.”

“Escher is like an intersection of math and science,” added Guttmann. “It’s like all STEM subjects and STEAM because it has the arts. This is a very exciting collaboration for us. We’re very excited to have MoMath doing this lecture series together. Having Dave here was a great treat. Everyone sees that art and math can be fun together. What is unique about this exhibition is that it’s very interactive and immersive. There are a lot of way to see the math and see the abstract concepts.”

“We were able to show participants at least an inkling of the genius of Escher,” Guttmann went on. “It engages everyone of all ages.”

Attendees had a great time.

“It’s my first trip to Industry City. I am really impressed with the space,” said Barbara Cantz, who came from Long Island to see the exhibits. “I’ve been a follower of graphic art my whole life and to see these in person is spectacular. The detail is phenomenal.”

The exhibit opened in June and is expected to be at IC until February.

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