Bridges, Finland, and Beyond

The annual Bridges Conference is fast approaching! This conference provides a platform for mathematicians, artists, mathematical artists, and artistic mathematicians to interact and inspire one another. It’s really quite the event. It’s one of the rare places where you can talk about being interested in both fine art and abstract mathematics without provoking any surprised or puzzled looks.

I participated for the first time last year, when the conference was held at the University of Baltimore. This year, the conference is to be held at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. During last year’s conference, I exhibited a series of three small works, and very much enjoyed meeting many interesting and friendly folks. I’m expecting to see some of these same people at this year’s conference. To name a few, I’m hoping to run into David Chappell and Nathan Selikoff, whose work I particularly appreciate. If you want to check out the rest of the work that will be on display this year, check out the online gallery, which includes a bit of my own work.

My over-arching goal in attending Bridges is to learn how to stop and better appreciate the aesthetics of math on both a visual and conceptual level. I want to learn how to better merge my current activities as a mathematician and my previous artistic training (I have a BA in studio art with a minor in art history from Indiana University), and so I want to see how others have succeeded in this regard.

Furthermore, I want to learn how to better integrate my faith in Christ into my artwork, and I want to learn how to use my role as a mathematician to my advantage as a servant in the Kingdom of God. In other words, my intention to unite my mathematical and artistic interests is part of my broader intention to unite my mathematical, artistic, and religious pursuits. My desire to move toward this goal provided the primary motivation for creating this blog, and I would like my aspirations toward this goal to motivate more of my activities in general. For example, I’d like to think more about the following questions:

  • How can I create art that is at once aesthetically potent, mathematically non-trivial, and aligned with a Christian worldview?
  • How can I be active in the professional mathematical community in such a way that reflects well on the Christian faith while gathering knowledge that can be transferred into the realm of visual art?
  • How can I follow Christ in such a way that embraces God’s reign over all aspects of life and the world around us (including art and math)?

Regarding the first and third questions, the book Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer has provided some helpful insights. Regarding the second question, I try to consider examples set by other mathematically trained Christians such as Vern Poythress and John Lennox. But, I’m always interested in learning about other resources that might help me consider these questions (and other related issues).