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In a Mathematician's Garden  /  Annamaria Brenti.

1995, double-straight quilt, 280 cm x 274 cm

Donated to the Einstein Institute of Mathematics by Francesco and Annamaria Brenti.

In a Mathematician's Garden / The artist's website

In a Mathematician's Garden - Quilt @ The Hebrew University Curatorship website

Photographed by: Douglas Guthrie, Jerusalem
© 2003, All rights reserved.

In a Mathematicians Garden by Annamaria Brenti wall quilt is on permanent display on the second floor of the Manchester Building/Einstein Institute of Mathematics.

Its symbols reflect important math concepts, including Fermats Last Theorem and Sierpinskys Sponge Fractal. But even non-mathematicians can appreciate it for its beauty, quilted with over 100 different fabrics.

     Click on image to see larger picture
Side A

On this side of the quilt, inside the tiled border, the three computer-generated central surfaces are visualizations, in the three special cases n=3,4,5, of Fermat's Last Theorem. Around the border of the largest of these three surfaces are embroidered the names of Fermat and Wiles, together with the years of discovery and proof of the Theorem. In fact, by pure coincidence, this quilt was finished in the same year and in the same place that Fermat's Last Theorem was proved. In this sense it became a commemorative quilt.

Hundreds of fabrics were needed to match the colors displayed so easily by the computer. Even more important was to gather many different types of materials (such as silks, rayons, etc.) that would enhance the pictures with extra texture and reflections - something that even the computer couldn't do!

All around the border, there are 23 tilings from the 24 "Heaven and Hell" tilings which were classified by mathematician Andreas Dress (the 24th is a boring checkerboard pattern, which I omitted). The fabrics used here are one-of-a-kind silks imported from France.

All these colorful, multi-shaped objects seem to float in a sea of black emptiness, but a closer look reveals a quilted spiral design. It is an aperiodic, monohedral tiling of the plane. The pattern is achieved on fabric by a sequence of running stiches through the three layers of the quilt with a multicolored metallic thread. These evenly spaced and tiny stitches (technically known as "quilting") require years of practice.

The cube at the right bottom corner is the third iteration of the so called "Sierpinski's Sponge" fractal. Here are some of the tiniest pieces of fabrics that can possibly be pieced together in patchwork (some barely two by three millimeters in size).

"Mathematics, which has enriched my life with so many joys", is a quotation from a letter of C.F. Gauss to Sophie Germain: you can see it quilted on this side of the quilt.

     Click on image to see larger picture
Side B

On this side there are five interconnected surfaces. Two surfaces consist of wholepieces of transparent, changing-hue silk loosely applied, which connect the other three mathematically defined surfaces, thus suggesting how from a pure intuition, in Mathematics, so many beautiful theories and concepts can arise.

The three-dimensional computer-generated pictures of both sides have been used with permission of Wolfram Research Inc.

About the Quilter

Annamaria Brenti has a degree in Mathematics from the University of Florence; her interests gradually shifted to quilting while living in the U.S. Her quilts won international awards in major quilt shows in Europe and the United States. She has been an invited artist at several quilting events around the world, including the IX International Quilt Week in Yokohama (Japan) in 2001, the IX European Patchwork Meeting in Alsace (France) in 2003, the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara (California, U.S.A.) in 2003, and the World of Quilting in Stoneleigh (U.K.) in 2003. She currently lives in Frascati (Rome, Italy).

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Comments to: N. Levin, email: naavah at math.huji.ac.il
Design, construction & editing: N. Levin
Background image © copyright 1997 by Xah Lee, used with permission.
URL: http://www.ma.huji.ac.il/
Last updated: March 27th, 2016