Anne Israel - Junior, Painting major
the infinite geometric pattern of a paper towel cut off at arbitrary borders
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Materials and Process

  • Paper towel
  • Pencil
  • Metallic acrylic paint
  • Concentrated tea solution as dye
  1. I began connecting dots with a pencil, and a hexagonal pattern became clear.
  2. I painted every alternating stripe with metallic acrylic paint.
  3. I dyed the rest of the fabric with a concentrated tea solution.

Artist's Narrative

For the first project, I decided to construct an infinite geometric pattern cut off at arbitrary borders. I initially planned to use a compass and ruler, as well as some easily controlled medium such as colored pencil on paper. After visiting the Islamic collection at the Walters Art Museum, however, I began to find examples of infinite geometric patterns everywhere I looked. It was dizzying to try to follow the lines in fabrics, stone masonry, mosaics, buildings, pavements, and even on the inside of official envelopes. I began to feel that the most relevant and engaging way to connect this phenomenon to my own work would be to utilize a found pattern. I noticed that the roll of paper towels in my kitchen offered such a possibility with its tiny perforations. I absently began connecting the dots with a pencil. As I worked the ground, I found that it was exceedingly fragile and reminded me of some kind of ancient parchment. So to evoke this feeling and contrast with the pearly shapes outlined in metallic acrylic paint, I dyed the rest of the fabric using a concentrated tea solution.

I really enjoy the subtlety and delicacy of this piece. It has the sense of antiquity that I enjoy when looking at artifacts. Finding such an elegant pattern in a roll of generic paper towels felt kind of like an excavation.

Teacher's Comment

This practicum presents, unexpectedly, a hexagonal grid that was "found" in a paper towel. The hexagonal grid is a tessellation -- a pattern created by the repetition of a single shape, in this case a regular hexagon, which when repeated covers the plane with no gaps and no overlaps. All triangles tessellate; do all quadrilaterals tessellate? Of the regular polygons (those with equal sides and equal angles), only the equilateral triangle, the square, and the regular hexagon tessellate. Can you figure out why other regular polygons do not tessellate? Hint: Think about circles and divisions of the circle into degrees. Note that the same mathematical principles underlie the construction of patterns in art and in nature!

more by Anne || back to other students' practicums

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