Nothing is completely solid. It’s the basic principle of quantum physics: matter is not nearly as solid as it appears; instead it’s made of billions of tiny particles that bounce against each other at incredible speeds. In fact, if all matter in the human body were condensed down, your average human would be about the size of the head of a pin.
This is the kind of dramatic science that practically begs to become a metaphor. And employed it is artist Marion Drennen’s exhibit, Quantum Connections, showing now through January 27th at the Brunner Gallery in the Shaw Center for the Arts.
In her artistic statement she uses the theory to describe her artistic process – “quantum physics tells us that we are not solid, that we move and vibrate and are filled with the potential to manifest. We need only focus on our desire in order to make it real, and so that is how I approach the paintings. I focus on the desire to express the idea. I think about the idea, not the painting.
Drennen, who received her Bachelor in Fine Arts from LSU, sees Quantum Connections as an exploration of the interconnectedness of all things, and specifically the relationship between humanity and the numbers our ancient ancestors created. A number, her artistic statement says, is not much more than an abstract concept representing a quantity.
Drennen’s application of quantum physics to this already rather abstract concept renders it even more esoteric, if no less interesting. So, if we are all moving around like mad at our most elemental level, then we aren’t really solid. And, since what is real about numbers is the relationship, then we only become solid when we observe ourselves and real when we perceive ourselves in relation to others (ie, acknowledge our connectedness).
Her explanation of “Four” reads probably as close to a mathematical equation as one can get to when talking about art – “the work itself refers to the 4 Noble Truths of Buddhism, and so the canvas is divided into four panels. And the contents of each panel is no less clearly defined: for example, the numbers and glyphs in the upper left hand panel represent the Truth that suffering exists by depicting ” the constant chatter in our heads.
In addition to containing the other three Noble Truths, the other panels include endless riffs on the number four, ranging from references to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s four freedoms, to four leaf clovers and four year college degree programs. It’s an almost exhaustive collection of meanings, all packed into a single painting, bumping up against one another, and yet somehow it feels inevitable, and completely appropriate to an artist so cerebral she manages to draw references not only to quantum physics, but also to four leaf clovers and the ancient languages of Sanskirt and old Icelandic, all in the same painting.
Written by Bobbi Parry