A picture composed of colorful, simple shapes on a plain backdrop hangs on the wall of Lorraine Walsh’s small third-floor office in the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics. Walsh created the minimalistic visual with a deeply intricate meaning in mind.
“The piece is called ‘String Theory’,”she said softly.
Her website explains that the piece emulates the multitude of space-time dimensions in basic objects in nature. She arrived at a visual depiction of these ideas through extensive research, sketching and work with computer animation, a picture truly worth a thousand words.
Walsh marries her lifelong love of art and science as a curator for Stony Brook University’s Simons Center by creating new and thought provoking exhibits.
“When curating, you are bringing together the community,” Walsh said. “Sharing new ideas and creativity with everyone, it is a very social thing. There is a lot of outreach with sharing art with the public.”
This semester, she is organizing a solo exhibition of work by digital artist Manfred Mohr. Mohr blends digital art with algorithmic geometry in order to create computer drawings and visuals.
This exhibition will feature Mohr’s early digital drawings produced at Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1969.
A talk by Mohr himself will be held at on Sept. 10 at 4 p.m. with a wine and cheese reception to follow.
A New York City native, Walsh spent the past 14 years as a professor of new media at the University of North Carolina Asheville. Walsh said she is glad to finally be back home in New York.
From North Carolina to New York to Greece, she has been around the world and back for her research in art and science.
Walsh received a grant through the University of Athens to assist in the European Mobile Lab for Interactive Media Artists, also known as e-MobiLArt. This group focuses on helping artists collaborate on interactive installations throughout the world.
In this project, Walsh combined her alternative approach to art with her extensive work in the art of sound.
She uses sound almost as a paintbrush of the senses, merging audio, visuals and textures.
She assisted the group in creating an abstract piece called “Sound-Lines.” They used a database referencing an Incan record-keeping device called the khipu, or quipu, to create interactive sound sculptures.
Walsh has been passionate about art and science for as long as she can remember.
As the daughter of a painter and the granddaughter of an inventor, she was learning new ideas before she could even speak.
“My parents and grandparents alike always encouraged me to follow my dream,” Walsh said. “It never occurred to me a career in the arts could be a challenging path. It’s only as an adult I realize how invaluable and wonderful it was to have received the confidence and infallible trust to pursue my passion, be it art or science.”
Along with curating, Walsh was also a visiting associate professor in the Department of Art, where she taught a class in museum studies.
Her dual roles as a professor and curator allow Walsh to invite art students from Stony Brook to work at the Simons Center gallery. This intermingling of the two departments has been a beneficial learning experience for students.
Theater student Zifei Wu has worked on three projects with Walsh. Wu said she wants to learn about the curating world and someday merge her knowledge of theater and curating.
She said Walsh has taught her a lot about the extensive research and organization behind showcasing professional work.
Wu worked alongside Walsh last May in the opening of “The Iconic Wall,” featured at the Simons Center last semester. “The Iconic Wall” featured a large-scale exhibit proposed by Nina Douglas, director of the Simons Center’s Arts and Science program, and was further developed by Stony Brook mathematics professor Anthony Phillips.
Artist Christian White adapted the design and hand-carved the site-specific, permanent limestone installation.
The exhibit included a video demonstration on what the math and science depicted on the piece.
With all these projects and exhibits, Walsh likes makes time to appreciate the art of nature. She is a frequent kayaker, runner and yoga instructor.
She plans to continue to work, curate at Stony Brook and keep molding spaces for creative thought and imagination for years to come.