Susan Van der Eb Greene

Artist, Retired Research Chemist
Richmond, VA

My profession as a research chemist laid the foundation for my enjoyment of the substructures that define the shapes we see in nature. For me mathematical patterns, especially topological surfaces and fractals, have always been intriguing and inspirational. In my designs I seek to achieve balance and motion through structural tension.

The 3-D shapes of molecules were one of several reasons that drew me to the field of chemistry. After leaving research, I have found designing and fabricating furniture and sculpture affords me the same excitement I experienced in a laboratory: problem solving, hands-on work, 3-D visualization, high tech materials and computers. By presenting the essence of a form found in nature I hope to remind the viewer of those shapes found in the cosmos.

6x10x8 inches
Wood: cherry

I wanted to create curves using straight lines and to suggest the strata that define sedimentation patterns in the earth. Included on part of the surface of this piece is a "landslide" where I show how the idealized geometry of strata can change over time. My art has been described as celebrating "truth and beauty," but here I include a dark indentation on the surface, one that might be created by the forces of entropy. The mathematics of contour modeling could inform the generation of this shape over time. As the triangular slats fan away from each other their length becomes the time axis.

Celtic Trefoil Table
17x21x21 inches
Wood: cherry

The inspiration for this design came from Miranda Lundy's book "Sacred Geometry," where she describes the Euclidean geometry used to generate a trefoil. Lundy found this particular trefoil in the masonry of a church window near the Isle of Man, but trefoil geometry exists in many Christian church windows. I have incorporated the essence of the elegant Isle of Man design as the stretcher in this glass top table.

7x13x10 inches
Wood: cherry

The processes found in tree growth and in the evolution of the cosmos have similar patterns. Energy and mass inter-convert during both galaxy and cell formation; emergence can result in self-organization. Where growth rings intersect in the wood grain one is reminded of colliding galaxies and a black hole. I have added a worm hole in space by drilling through the log. The rending of the fabric of the universe appears in the natural splitting of the wood where the tension of expansion exceeded the force holding the grain in alignment. For me this cross section of a cherry tree at the point of branching suggests chaos and complexity mathematics frozen in time.