METAPHORS OF GEOMETRIC PROPORTION
by Bobby Jaber with Bonnie DeVarco


"Hildegard de Bingen,"
approximately 5 inches in diameter, carved porcelain, fired to Cone 8

After twenty-five years as a high school chemistry and physics teacher and five years teaching mathematics, I returned to my first love - art. Although for many years I was not aware of it, I eventually realized that my Arabic heritage has always informed my art, and imbues my aesthetic with a classical, traditional approach. To me, symmetry and classic lines display an exceptional grace and perfection, so I chose to focus on sculpting spherical porcelain vessels. Could I attempt to make the perfect spherical vessel as perfect as what can be found in an ideal natural world : the planets, a bubble, a drop of water in a gravitation free environment? This question served as a compelling proving ground for my background in both art and science, a place where I could combine the exactitude of measurement, the mathematics of the sphere and exercises in geometry with the unique aesthetics of embedded design.

My work brings together in three dimensions the same rhythmic, symmetrical elements that define the beautiful works of Islamic art. Historically, Islamic artists applied mathematics to tile patterning because their work could contain no graven images. I wanted my finished works - vessels that introduced curvature to the embedded design - to bring a new dimension to the geometric art experience, one that was both natural and abstract at the same time. But unlike traditional Islamic design, and as an homage to the latter half of 20th century science, I also wanted to combine chaos with order into a symmetrically unified "whole."

Drawing from my experiences with science, I injected rigor and documentation into the artistic process. Using color-coded graphs and information logged into a journal, I recorded the evolution of each design (http://www.porcelainia.com). The early days were filled with experimentation as I tried many different approaches. Working out most of the technical problems allowed these spherical forms to become larger, more complex and intricate.

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