Peter Bankson

Fiber sculptor; Pastor (Servant Leadership Team at Seekers Church); Retired Army officer (Infantry, Viet Nam veteran)
Seekers Church, Washington, DC
Alexandria, Virginia
“Number Theory by Hand”

When I entered MIT as a freshman in 1957 there was an elective called “Number Theory.” I didn’t know what that meant, so I signed up. But by about the fourth week it was clear that I was too lost to learn very much, so I dropped out. Memories of that unsuccessful encounter hung around for years. I discovered sculptural crochet as I threaded my way through several careers. I was inspired by the crocheted coral reef at the Smithsonian Institution Museum of Natural History. I could understand those complex forms nemerging from the simple stitchery I'd been doing for 40 years.

These pieces study the effects of sustained rates of growth over ten generations. They might apply to populations, or savings, or garbage in a landfill. It took me 50 years to get a feel for what the math might tell others in an instant. Finally I got a feel for the MIT motto, “Mens et Manus,” mind and hand. Sometimes it takes both art and equations to get a handle on things.
S=6∑ (n=0-9) 2^n
15"x15"x6"
Crocheted wool on steel hoop
2011
This piece represents a rate of increase of 100% per cycle over 10 cycles. It might illustrate the excitement of a "double your money" scheme, or the population growth of some life form that has access to enough food and faces no threats. It looks a lot like brain coral for good reason.
S=6∑ (n=0-9) 1.667^n
15"x15"x5"
Crocheted wool on steel hoop
2011
This piece represents a rate of increase of 66% per cycle over 10 cycles. At 2/3 of the rate of growth of the larger piece it has fewer than 25% of the stitches in the larger piece.
S=6∑ (n=0-9) 1.5^n
15"x15"x5"
Crocheted wool on steel hoop
2011
This piece represents a rate of increase of 50% per cycle over 10 cycles. It grows at 1/2 of the rate of the largest piece but in the end includes just over 11% of the stitches in the largest piece where the growth rate is 100%.

These three pieces represent a series that explores the emergent patterns as growth rates vary from 100% to zero per cycle over 10 cycles.