James Mai

Professor of Art
Illinois State University School of Art
United States

My studio work includes forms derived from combinatorial and permutational procedures. I am interested in discovering the complete set of forms permissible within a given set of parameters. Compositions of art works are usually determined by organizing the forms in arrays, clusters, or sequences of their varying shape features. Colors also indicate similarities and differences of features and symmetries. And in many works, I consider figurative allusions when making decisions regarding color, scaling, and distribution. I often allude to celestial, biological, or microscopic forms of nature, and in some works I allude to mythologies.

Pantheon
8 x 8"
archival digital print
2013

This composition includes all 25 forms that connect the vertices of a regular octagon into 2 triangles + 1 line. There are 5 different triangles possible by connecting 3 vertices of an octagon: 3 different isosceles, 1 right, and 1 scalene. The 5 "singular" types that occupy the center of the composition (dark gray ovals) contain forms that employ 2 similar triangles; the 9 "compound" types around the periphery (light gray ovals/circles) employ 2 different triangles. Curving lines connect each peripheral form with the central forms that share the same kinds of triangles.

Branchy
8 x 8"
archival digital print
2012

The forms in this composition are derived from a larger set of “5-strutforms”, which are shapes made from 6 points connected by 5 lines (“struts”). This subset of forms is comprised of all those that include T-intersections, what one might call “5-strut branch-forms”. Coloration indicates symmetry characteristics: red = 1- or 2-axis reflective symmetry; yellow (a single form) = rotational symmetry; blue = asymmetry. There are 5 levels of scale, each associated with the proportion of an overall rectangular envelope into which the given form would fit.