December 18, 2012

Diatomaceous Art

        Here's my most recent piece, representing diatoms.  Diatoms are a type of algae that build themselves intricate cell walls from silica.  These structures are amazingly complex and beautiful.  Like snowflakes, you can't appreciate their unique beauty without magnification, but unlike snowflakes they come in a wide variety of basic shapes and forms.  If you search on-line you can find lots of amazing photographs of these tiny natural masterpieces, which are called frustules.
        My version isn't scientifically field-guide-accurate, but I did use many of the shapes and patterns I found in the photographs to design my own interpretation of diatoms.  In addition to the standard carving techniques I also made ample use of a thumbtack to make all the tiny dots that are so prevalent in these designs.  I printed a version in grey on white as well, but found the white on black more fun.  Besides, I think that the silica forms would naturally be white, so if what I left uncarved was the forms of the diatoms, those are the forms that should be white.
        I had fun with this one.  Its final look is much more abstract than my usual stuff, and I have no idea how it will sell compared with pretty scenery, fun fantasy, or cats.  But then, the whole point of art is to follow your curiosity, explore your interests, push your ideas a little further, and celebrate beauty no matter what its source or form.  Perhaps I won't be the only one who finds these diatoms entrancing, and if I can connect with someone else in that way, then Art has done its job again.

[Picture: Diatomaceous Art, rubber block print by AEGN, 2012.]

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