Marcia Birken

Professor Emerita of Mathematics/Art Quilter
School of Mathematical Sciences, Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, New York, USA

As a mathematician, I have always been drawn to patterns, including the regular patterns of symmetry, the rough and jagged patterns of fractals, the seemingly random distribution of prime numbers, and even the irregular stripe patterns of zebras. When I retired from RIT I took up quilting because the patterns of traditional quilts fascinated me. When I discovered art quilting, I found a true merging of my love of math and art. Both art quilts exhibited here are examples of my mathematical personality in an artistic form.


My Mathematical Universe
75 x 48 cm
Art Quilt made with cotton fabrics
2015

This quilt was made for the 2015 Genesee Valley QuiltFest Challenge with the theme "My Universe." I included many of my favorite mathematical pattens, including a portion of Pascal's Triangle and a Golden Spiral with tangential circles. In my universe, pattern is the song that drives our daily lives. The quilt is made with both pieced and fused fabrics and is quilted in a circular motif in the background.


Sierpinski's Spiral
111 x 105 cm
Art Quilt made with Silk Fusion and Cotton fabrics
2019

This quilt was made for the Rochester Area Fiber Artists challenge to create a quilt that would be easily recognizable as your own. I used multi-colored silk fusion fabric, that I created from unspun silk roving, to make the cut-out Sierpinski Triangle. "Flying Geese" is a common triangular motif used in quilting, so I let the bottom right triangle "fall away" into a pattern of spiraling silk fusion flying geese that soar to infinity.