Mary Boole was a bad-ass mathematician of the 19th Century and happy proponent of learning through playing. She brought into focus a wonderful paradigm for visualizing the shapes of numbers through the simple and intuitive medium of curve stitching. 

String Art at FIGMENT arts festival. Image: Guerilla Science / Sherry Hochbaum

String Art at FIGMENT arts festival. Image: Guerilla Science / Sherry Hochbaum

Also known as string art, curve stitching is the simple practice of drawing taught strings between points on a frame to create beautiful natural patterns. By using enough straight lines you can create the appearance of curves. It’s a practice that’s used in both high-art creations like those by Barbara Hepworth, and children’s classrooms.

This June, Pratt Institute student Lillian Thomas turned her focus onto string art as a way of describing the essence of light. As part of the International Year of Light, supported  by the International Society for Optics and Photonics, Lillian created an interactive piece of art for display at the FIGMENT arts festival. The piece TIR (Total Internal Reflection) emulated the natural straight-line paths that light tends to follow, through suspended strings. TIR was displayed as part of the Guerilla Science program of events and Lillian guided attendees through the process of creating their own works, and understanding how light travels.