In my mind I have a grade-school image of the steps of the scientific method. Each one follows from the next in an orderly fashion at the imperative of little black arrows. I’ve often thought about art and science as closely-related cousins in the search for understanding. No artist reveres this relationship more than Jo Ann Fleischhauer. She also gleefully explodes those neat little scientific steps when need be, borrowing from history, literature and design.
Her most elaborate installation piece to date Leonardo Diologo was conceived in conjunction with researchers that she met at UT’s cancer research facility in Houston. Although the piece was finished in 2010, few people have had the opportunity to see it. It’s location is necessarily secure, and an expected expansion of the research facility was postponed just as the work was completed. But being in the company of Houston’s tiniest art world “it girl” has its perks, so we were able to get a peek.
The installation fills a foyer, but due to the mirrored ceiling and reflective floors it appears to extend infinitely. Fleischhauer’s sense of drama is immediately evident. Black, white and gray tiles in the shapes of buckyballs and other molecules spiral and descend in size. The serpentine composition is viewable in its entirety through the mirrors.
Along the walls, the artist has inscribed numbers from the Fibonacci sequence as well as text. These lines of characters spiral upward, and in some cases are reversed, their legible reflections appearing in the gleaming ceiling. The energy and dynamism of this place is infectious. Clementine raced around giddily. Within four walls, Fleischhauer has created a whirlwind of theory, molecular structures, and abstract concepts. These usually ephemeral ideas have assumed glamorous physical forms.
To see a video on Fleischhauer’s recent public installation in Market Square, you can follow this rabbit hole.