Fall Northampton Special Exhibit

Images: David Benyosef, Glass Vases • Mark Del Guidice, Wood Furniture • David Levy, Cutting Board • Heather Kidson, Handpainted Silk • Stephanie Young, Ceramic Vases • Aaron Macsai, Gold Alloy Brooch

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.

What underlies great science is what underlies great art, whether it is visual or written, and that is the ability to distinguish patterns out of chaos.
             – Diana Gabaldon,
            author of “Outlander”

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. 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.

Today, 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 in Exhibition Building #2 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.

Mark Del Guidice writes, 'As a studio furniture maker in the 21st century, I find myself working at the intersection of art, craft and design.' His finely crafted and very distinctive furniture includes tables, seating, chests, tall, mirrors and even lighting. Form and function are important to him, but surface design is his labor of love. Each piece is covered with decorative hieroglyphs, symbols and actual quotations carved in Morse Code. Del Guidice's work appears in over a dozen published books and in the permanent collections of Yale University Art Gallery, Smith College Museum of Art, the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury and the Fuller Museum of Craft.