Let’s Talk SHOP: Adam Boyle & Infinite Series Arts

Abby Leon, Paradigm Gallery Director

Artist Adam Boyle. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Adam Boyle uses math, science, and technology daily as a full-time engineer, but these skills are also a major component in his stone sculpture artwork. While a lot of us cringe when we even hear the word math, it’s his muse; and rightfully so! Art and mathematics are strangely connected in many ways, and have a longstanding relationship. Just think back to Polykleitos’ formula for the ideal proportions of a nude figure, Da Vinci’s illustrations of the golden ratio, or even M.C. Escher’s mind bending tessellations. In fact, many works of art incorporate it in some shape or form, whether the artist is conscious of it or not. In this week’s Let’s Talk SHOP, Adam’s work is sure to open your mind to the beauty of arithmetic! As Adam says, “Stone carving is a subtractive process of creating negative space and leaving behind additive ideas and positive impressions.”

Infinite Series Arts began as an effort to reconnect with the discipline of making by creating tangible representations of mathematics through simple yet striking pieces of stone sculpture.

My mission is to connect the arts & sciences through stone expressions.

Logo for Infinite Series Arts, the artists studio.

φ Unending – The Origin

The Greek letter phi ‘φ’ represents the golden ratio and was the underlying idea in creating this piece.

Considering this proportion is a commonly held standard of beauty in art and architecture, I sought to incorporate a ‘golden rectangle’ in a Möbius style loop. The cross-section of this thickened Möbius form is approximately 1” x 1.618” following a 2” radius from the center, the rectangle rotates a full 180° along the 4” diameter of the circle.

Φ Unending – Raw Material & Blanking

From Raw Material to Blanks:

The stone carving process begins with selecting the raw material and determining the orientation of the intended design with the grain of the stone. This is a raspberry alabaster that features some soft green tones and deeper red notes. The slab was segmented into smaller blanks using a 9” angle grinder.

Φ Unending – Layout and Tools

Generally, I am a direct carver that applies constraints to the stone to move from boulder, to slab, to blank, to final form.

For this work I opted for an indirect approach, by first modeling the form in CAD software and then creating a schematic.

Φ Unending – Design Transfer and Getting Started

In the spirit of beginning with the end in mind, the mounting pin hole is drilled to preserve alignment. Once the design is transferred to the face of the blank, the outside profile is established by carving away the corners and the internal profile is rough cored and filed to shape. The blue and black ink aid in visualizing the two perpendicular faces that make up the ‘golden rectangle’ as it twists around the circle.

Φ Unending – Making Faces

Working counter-clockwise from the 12 o’clock position on the 1.618” face of the rectangle it sweeps down and in 180° to the top of the 6 o’clock position while rotating 90°. Subsequently, the 1” face of 6 o’clock position rotates up and inward to the bottom of the 12 o’clock position. The outside profile follows and gives way to a fully roughed idea.

Φ Unending – Surface Treatment

Creating a uniform surface begins with dry sanding using 80 & 150 grit abrasive paper. Half of the total time spent finishing will be with the roughest grit; each subsequent grit will require half the time spent with the previous. Wet sanding begins with 220 grit abrasive paper, then 320, 400, 600, 1200, and finally 1500 grit to polish and bring the natural luster of the stone forward.

Φ Unending – Sealing and Mounting

The sanded piece is treated with a wax sealant to preserve the luster and shine of the polished stone. The mounting pin and base are prepared, then the pin is set with an epoxy in the piece. Once cured, the pin is set in the base with epoxy and the final orientation is set.

Φ Unending – Conclusion

From an abstract mathematical concept of proportionality, translated to a 3D rendering, and ultimately conveyed in a beautifully polished stone; through the timeless beauty of stone and the practical application of mathematics, this simple yet striking stone carving seeks to elevate the mundane to the sublime.

Phi Unending, $1,658.

Come visit us at the Paradigm Gallery to see more of Adam Boyle’s incredible stone carvings: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm; Thursday 10am-8pm; Sunday 12-5pm.

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