Fall Marlborough • Special Exhibit

Images: Patricia Palson, Handwoven Clothing • Jessica Fields, Jewelry • Ann Brauer, Art Quilt • David Scherer, Wall Clock • Erin Young, Ceramic Cups • Peiliang Jin, Watercolor Painting • David Levy, Game Table

Pattern Play! Rhythm and Decoration in Art and Design

Playful, mesmerizing seductive, even startling — patterns captivate us with their clever, intricate rhythms. Patterns are all around us, playing an important role in our ability to navigate through life. Some scientific studies suggest seeing patterns will even make you smarter! And what a pleasure it is to be mesmerized by the pattern found in a snowflake’s design, a tiger’s symmetrical stripes, or the never-ending spiral of a shell.

Following in nature’s footsteps, artists use patterns to repeat or echo important ideas in their work, letting a pattern communicate a sense of balance, harmony, contrast, or movement.

We adore chaos because we want to produce order.
             – M.C. Escher
Drawing patterns is one of the oldest art forms. Think of the repeating patterns of lotus leaves carved into the great tombs and monuments of the Egyptian pharaohs. From the 7th century on, the ultimate pattern masters had to be the Islamic artists whose geometric patterns still inspire our awe in magnificent buildings like the Alhambra in Spain or the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul. In the 20th century, MC Escher took patterns to dizzying artistic heights with his “tessellations” which created mind-boggling symmetrical patterns out of fish and frogs and flying birds. Modern and contemporary art movements, like Op Art’s optical illusions and Pattern and Decoration’s dense, repetitive imagery, are still relevant today.

At Paradise City, artists and makers of all stripes continue to enchant us with their pattern play. Handmade textile and clothing designers turn useful coats and scarves into fashion extravaganzas with the clever use of repeating designs. Jewelers transfix us with gold, silver, and precious stones placed in delicate, rhythmic arrangements. Painters, photographers, ceramicists, woodworkers, glass blowers, and all manner of metalsmiths use patterns to create works of art that let us lose ourselves in their intricacy.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of getting lost in the maze of a pattern, Paradise City’s themed “Pattern Play!” exhibit mounted by the big windows in the Sculpture Café is a must see. Discover the mysterious power of patterns to communicate ideas, create new connections, and spin a web that draws you deep into the artist’s imagination.