Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science

Anchor name: Exhibition
For centuries, fiber arts have influenced practical, theoretical, and pedagogical areas of the sciences as diverse as digital technology, mathematics, neuroscience, medicine, and more. Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science explores this relationship through contemporary art and historical artifacts centered on four key themes: shape, body, brain and machine. A celebration of interdisciplinary creativity and collaborative learning, Radical Fiber foregrounds each work as at once fine art, process-driven craft, and scientific tool, complicating existing frameworks across fields. Can a crochet hook and yarn uniquely explain the complexities of non-Euclidean geometry? Why does the 1804 Jacquard loom relate to modern computing? How did the accidental discovery of synthetic mauveine dye in 1856 pave the way for modern pharmaceuticals yet also generate toxic environmental impact? Why do we respond differently to a woven photograph than a printed one? These and other questions will reframe the histories of fiber/science intersections and ask not only how artists continue to engage in scientific inquiry through fiber, but also importantly, how the medium can be used to improve our world for the future.
Radical Fiber will feature a new artwork created by amateur and professional makers around the globe: the Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef, part of the worldwide Crochet Coral Reef project by Christine and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring. The Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef draws on the long historical connections, especially in the United States, between fiber practice and community building and will connect hobby crafters, art professionals, novice crocheters, and students from Skidmore, broader Saratoga, and global communities. Learn how to participate below.
Exhibition Name
Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science
Exhibition Type
Group Exhibitions
Place
Malloy Wing
Dates
Jan 29 - Jun 12
Curators
Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science is curated by Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara in consultation with Skidmore faculty Mark Huibregtse, Rachel Roe-Dale, and Becky Trousil from Mathematics & Statistics; Sara Lagalwar from Neuroscience; Elaine Larsen from Biology; Aarathi Prasad from Computer Science; and Sang-Wook Lee from Art.
Artists
Lia Cook, Brock Craft, Veronica Dry, Anna Dumitriu, Ellis Developments, Imperial Chemical Industries, Hanne Kekkonen, Kintra Fibers, Elaine Krajenke Ellison, Karen Norberg, William Henry Perkin, Helen Remick, Dario Robleto, Daniela Rosner, Elden Seropian, Samantha Shorey, John Sims, Soft Monitor, Daina Taimina, Unidentified artist, Unidentified Incan artist, Cecilia Vicuña, Christine Wertheim, Margaret Wertheim, Carolyn Yackel
Student Staff
Olivia Sessions
Exhibitions and Collections Assistant, Gallery Monitor Associate
A light skinned man with dark hair stands smiles at the camera. Trees and greenery are visible in the background.
Nathan Bloom
2020-21 Eleanor Linder Winter Endowed Intern, Student Advisory Council, past: Design Assistant, Summer Volunteer
Silas in front of a snow covered hill with a building in the background.
Silas Seno Mitchell
Curatorial Intern
A young man wears a dark gray turtleneck sweater and looks at the camera.
Theo Carol
Registrarial Intern, past: Tang Guide
Anchor name: Symposium

Radical Fiber:
A Symposium on Art and Science

The symposium was held online, via Zoom, January 28–29, 2022.
Anchor name: Symposium Videos
Up next
Day 1: Curator’s tour of the Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef
Day 1: Threads Throughout History
Day 1: Making Visible: Math, Craft, Culture
Up next
Day 2: Curator’s Tour of Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science
Day 2: Textiles, Technology, and Social Good
Day 2: The Future of Textiles and Sustainability

Schedule for Friday, January 28

All times are Eastern Standard Time



11 am–12 pm: Curator’s tour of the Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef
Part of the worldwide Crochet Coral Reef project by Christine and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring.



1–1:15 pm: Welcome

  • Ian Berry, Tang Dayton Director

  • Rebecca McNamara, Tang Associate Curator

1:15-2:30 pm: “Threads Throughout History”

  • Elissa Auther, Craft Curator and Scholar

  • Dario Robleto, Artist

2:45–4 pm: “Making Visible: Math, Craft, Culture”

  • John Sims, MathArtist, Writer, and Curator

  • Jeffrey Splitstoser, Anthropologist

  • Daina Taimina, Mathematician and Artist

  • Moderated by Stephen Ornes, Science Writer

4–4:30 pm: Day 1 Discussion
A Zoom conversation open to all attendees to meet and talk about the first day of the symposium. Moderated by Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.

Schedule for Saturday, January 29

All times are Eastern Standard Time



11 am–12 pm: Curator’s Tour of Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science


1–2:15 pm: “Textiles, Technology, and Social Good”

  • Trisha L. Andrew, Materials Scientist, Inventor, Entrepreneur

  • Emilie Giles, Researcher, Artist, and Educator

  • Ursula Wolz, Computer Science Educator and Textile Crafter

  • Moderated by Aarathi Prasad, Computer Scientist

2:30–3:45 pm: “The Future of Textiles and Sustainability”

  • Preeti Arya, Textile Professional and Consultant

  • Juan Hinestroza, Nanotechnologist and Inventor

  • Alissa Sandra Baier-Lentz, Fashion Industry Entrepreneur

  • Moderated by Nurcan Atalan-Helicke, Food Studies Scholar

3:45–4:15 pm: Day 2 Discussion
A Zoom conversation open to all attendees to meet and talk about the first day of the symposium. Moderated by Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.

Anchor name: Satellite Reef

Saratoga Springs
Satellite Reef

Part of the worldwide Crochet Coral Reef project by Christine and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring

About the Crochet Coral Reef

The Crochet Coral Reef is project created by sisters Christine Wertheim and Margaret Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring. Residing at the intersection of mathematics, marine biology, handicraft, and community art practice, the project responds to the environmental crisis of global warming and the escalating problem of oceanic plastic trash by highlighting not only the damage humans do to earth’s ecology, but also our power for positive action. The Wertheims’ Crochet Coral Reef collection has been exhibited worldwide, including at the 2019 Venice Biennale, Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), Hayward Gallery (London), Science Gallery (Dublin), and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (Washington, DC). The project also encompasses a community-art program in which more than 20,000 people around the world have participated in making 50 locally based Satellite Reefs—in New York, Chicago, Melbourne, Ireland, Latvia, UAE, and elsewhere. The Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef on display here is the latest addition to this ever-evolving wooly archipelago.

About the Artists

Margaret Wertheim is a science writer, artist, and author of books on the cultural history of physics. Christine Wertheim is an experimental poet, performer, artist, and writer, and a faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts. Margaret and Christine conduct the Crochet Coral Reef project through their Los Angeles–based practice, the Institute For Figuring, which is dedicated to “the poetic dimensions of science and mathematics.” The IFF is at once an art endeavor and a framework for innovative public science engagement.

Anchor name: How To Crochet
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i
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