Written by Nicholas Sullivan
Leave it to one of the nation’s most prestigious universities to take thousands of tiny rectangular pieces of cardstock and turn them into a masterpiece sculpture of art, engineering and mathematics. The Mosely Snowflake Fractal is a 3D origami-like sculpture that is on display at the Doheny Memorial Library on the University of Southern California (USC) Campus.
Befitting of USC’s cardinal and gold colors, the fascinating piece of three-dimensional art is comprised of almost 50,000 university business cards. Inspired by the recent discovery of a similar fractal structure by Jeannine Mosely, the snowflake exhibit as it is commonly referred to as, will be on display in the Doheny Library until the end of 2012 for visitors and community members to enjoy.
The enormous amount of time and cognitive ability it took to create this sculpture — made almost entirely out of business cards — is almost unimaginable. When viewing this sculpture, it is hard not think about the lucky business card printing company that benefited from printing nearly 50,000 pieces of cardstock for it to come to life.
The printer that made the cards had a small hand in creating the piece of art. Although it took nearly six months to conceive, the snowflake exhibit was a true passion-project for many involved, including library curator and project mastermind, Margaret Wertheim.
A Community Project
With the amount of people and time it took to create such a sculpture, it is apparent the message is that science, math and art are not so much unlike each other and can be intertwined to create something more amazing than a one-dimensional subject. That is how the fractal exhibit came to fruition.
The process began with a commission of sorts by the university. USC expressed its desire to create a piece of art involving several seemingly unrelated subjects of study at the school. The creation was a communal effort, as more than 300 USC students and faculty took part in the piecing together of the almost 50,000 business cards to create a shape many never even heard of, let alone viewed. So, in many ways, the project is more of a community art project than some high-priced piece of art commissioned by a prestigious university.
Labor of Love
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the artwork is that it is a sculpture created using materials never used in quite the same way before. The shape created using the trio of art, math and science will likely remain a one-of-a-kind object. What’s more, it represents a piece of art worked on by and for a community to enjoy.
It is safe to say that not one person involved in this project was uninterested. For many, including Mosely and Wertheim, the object was an absolute labor of love and will remain on display at least through December, at which time it may be sent around for other art, science and/or math lovers to admirer.
About Nicholas Sullivan
Nick is a college admissions consultant who helps high school students find and apply for financial aid and scholarships. He also coaches them on the application process.