Nature's Forms: Pattern Texture, and Rhythm in Natural Objects from the Collection

Monday, July 26 to Friday, June 29, 2012,
Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature

The University of Richmond Museums presents Nature’s Forms: Pattern Texture, and Rhythm in Natural Objects from the Collection, on view from July 26, 2010 to June 26, 2011, in the Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature. The exhibition examines the patterns, rhythms, and textures evident in natural objects such as seashells, minerals, and gems. Focusing on concepts such as fractals, the Fibonacci sequence, and growth formations, the objects reveal both the complexity of organically occurring forms as well as their visual appeal. Highlights of the exhibition include the cross section of a nautilus seashell, a cluster of smoky black quartz crystals, a large multicolored slab of polished petrified wood, and a 17-inch-long stalactite.

An example of pattern and rhythm in nature is the nautilus seashell, with its spiraling chambers that increase in size according to the Fibonacci sequence of numbers (e. g. 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, …). First noted by mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci (Italian, circa 1170-1250), this endless sequence proceeds with each number being the sum of the previous two numbers (0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, …). In the same manner, each chamber in the nautilus has a side whose length is the sum of the previous two chambers’ sides.

Comparing a cluster of brilliantly yellow, angular pyrite crystals to the sharp puffball-like crystals of mesolite reveals the varied patterns and textures that occur in minerals as a result of their regular internal arrangement of atoms. Individual pyrite crystals appear as cubes, with clearly defined faces that have parallel grooves or striations. Mesolite is a clear to white mineral that has smooth, needle-like crystals, radiating out from a central point, creating the puffball appearance.

The exhibition also includes photographs by Life magazine photographer Andreas Feininger (American, born in France, 1906-1999), who focused on the structure and function of natural objects. In his Overlay of Hand-Drawn Design of Fibonacci Spiral, a drawing featured in the exhibition, he explored the presence of the Fibonacci sequence of numbers in a pine cone’s structure, as seen in his accompanying photograph.

Organized by the University of Richmond Museums, the exhibition was co-curated by Richard Waller, Executive Director, University Museums, and Amy Nicholas, ’11, classical civilization and studio art double major, University of Richmond, 2010 Arts and Sciences Summer Research Fellow, and 2010 -11 marketing assistant, University Museums.

Programming:
- Friday, September 24, 2010, 12:30-1:00 p.m.
Curator’s Talk, Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature, University of Richmond Museums
Pattern, Texture, and Rhythm in Nature, Amy Nicholas, ’11, classical civilization and studio art double major, University of Richmond, 2010 Arts and Sciences Summer Research Fellow, and 2010-11 marketing assistant, University Museums

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Programming

Friday, September 24, 2010, 12:30 p.m.
Curator’s Talk, Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature
Pattern, Texture, and Rhythm in Nature
Amy Nicholas, ’11, classical civilization and studio art double major, University of Richmond, 2010 Arts and Sciences Summer Research Fellow, University Museums, and curator of the exhibition Nature’s Forms: Pattern, Texture, and Rhythm in Natural Objects from the Collection