Susan Goldstine

Professor of Mathematics
St. Mary's College of Maryland
St. Mary's City, Maryland, USA

There are two things I have done for as long as I can remember: explore mathematics, and create things with my hands. In my professional academic life, these impulses have merged into my specialization in mathematics and the arts. I am particularly devoted to exploring handcrafts, especially those in the fiber arts traditionally viewed as feminine. The interplay between mathematics and fiber arts is endlessly fascinating, both in the ways that mathematics allows for a deeper understanding of knitting, crochet, weaving, and so forth, and in the ways that these crafts can illuminate complex concepts in mathematics.

Symmetry Flow
Symmetry Flow
56 x 166 x 166 cm
Watercolor paper, watercolor pencil, stainless steel wire

A kinetic flowchart for identifying the 17 wallpaper groups. The mobile follows Brian Sanderson's classification system for symmetries that fill the plane, which first sorts by the largest order of rotational symmetry. The initial split in the mobile is between patterns with and without an order 3 rotation; the branches then subdivide into maximum rotation orders 6, 3, 4, 2, and 1. Further branchings filter by reflections, glide reflections, and the relationships between different symmetries. Roughly speaking, within each cluster the more reflection symmetry a pattern has, the lighter the color.

My thanks go to Louise Gould for her advice on desktop cutting machines, and to Alison Frane for teaching me how to make wire mobiles.