Charlene Morrow

Faculty Emerita, Psychology and Education; Guest Instructor, Mathematics and Statistics
Mount Holyoke College (Retired)
Holyoke, Massachusetts USA

I work mainly in the medium of modular origami. I am motivated to understand mathematical ideas by attempting to express these ideas in visual ways. I am deeply impressed by the ways that visually pleasing art often emerges through the process of trying to gain a deeper understanding of the mathematical ideas I set out to explore. I also find that new questions emerge as I look for ways to express my original questions. The dialectical process of mathematical question – visual expression – mathematical question engages my imagination and allows me to experience both the beauty and the power of mathematics. I have learned quite a bit of mathematics by raising questions, and then needing to learn content in order to pursue answers.

Terrifying Beauty: The Coronavirus Molecule
15 x 15 x 15 cm
Gold-edged Japanese polyester ribbon 3/8" wide; red kami origami paper

As I looked at images of the coronavirus appearing in 2020, I realized that this molecule, like many others, could be modeled well using a polyhedron. In this case, I used a particular Buckyball where the equally spaced hexagons were spread out enough to serve as a platform for carrying the spiky bits that seemed to look like "tetrahedral lollypops." I have not seen any other 3D models of this molecule. The Buckyball portion of the model (i.e., the sphere) is comprised of well over 1,000 small pieces of ribbon that are folded and interlocked without any adhesive. The spiky bits are attached with dots of glue. The model took weeks to complete with adjustments along the way to better represent images I found in the scientific literature.