Sally Porter


Artist's Statement


My work explores the question, "What is reality?" The work converges on philosophy, the science of mathematics, and human perception. According to Plato's theory of forms, everything in this reality, the imperfect state of becoming, is based on a higher level of reality, the reality of pure, perfect ideas or forms. Mathematicians seek to reveal this underlying order and unity by condensing the patterns found in nature into formulae. Human perception enables us to participate in the process of becoming. Through my art, I hope to provide the catalyst, which stimulates the viewer into pursuing his or her own search for answers to this question.



Mathematical symbols, equations, and numbers are part of the visual grammar used in my work. The Greek letter Omega is used in higher-level mathematics to point to the ultimate infinity. The Greek letter Phi is used as a symbol for the Golden Ratio, the ratio upon which the Fibonacci sequence converges. The natural logarithmic base, "e", also appears as an element, along with formulae appropriated from calculus.


One of the rooms on this site is named after Euler, a mathematician living in the eighteenth century. He discovered what is now known as Euler's formula, which is significant in that it unites some of the fundamental mathematical identities, (1, 0, e, the imaginary number "i", and pi) into one equation. This formula appears in the painting Everything and Nothing, an image of pure geometric elements. The piece, Aleph-Nought Rock-Sand, incorporates the symbol aleph-nought. This symbol is used in transfinite arithmetic, a branch of mathematics concerned with infinities. Mathematics, the science of patterns, is the abstract vehicle, which exposes the underlying order and unity of all that is.


The rooms Kingdom Animalia (Shells) and Kingdom Animalia focus on some of the more obvious patterns found in nature. Plato's Reptilian Form contains the image of a turtle, a lizard, and crocodilian pattern, along with the function f(x) = 2, referencing an underlying order. The paintings 109 Degrees and Seventy Degrees reference angle measurements found in the hexagonal honeycomb of bees. The paintings whose titles contain the word "Cipher" refer to the encryption of our physical reality, inferring a code, which remains hidden. Birdness with Phyllotaxis features the image of fossilized archaeopteryx, the first bird, along with a diagram of phyllotaxis, the numerical arrangement of petals or leaves around a stem.


The paintings in the room Glass Reality, are based on my perception of pieces of colorless, clear, cut crystal glass. One of the pieces of glass, a crystal candy dish/bowl, is the subject of six of the thirteen paintings in this room. Color is a topic of philosophical interest. One theory states that color does not exist independently of the viewer's mind. According to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, our perception of an object determines the final reality of that object.


The writings of mathematician John Barrow, physicist Fritjof Capra, and the philosophy of Plato have heavily influenced my work. Artists that have informed my work include Paul Klee, Picasso, Gustav Klimt, Van Gogh, David Hockney, Chuck Close, and David Salle.


© 2009 Sally Porter. All rights reserved.