Christine Romanell


What happens if a pattern doesn’t repeat but has long range order? My work investigates non-repeating patterns in paintings, light sculptures and installations. The source material for the endless permutations in my work come from the properties of self-similarity, meaning the same form at different scales. Fractals are the most common example of self-similarity. Less common are quasicrystal patterns which use rotational symmetry with a complicated set of rules to achieve self-similarity. The repetition of difference is a means of transformation. Descriptive and evocative, pattern is an imitation of the infinite.


My work seeks to reveal connections between a variety of disciplines – material science, astrophysics, mathematics, and medieval Islamic Architecture. In the 1980s, the quasicrystal, an aluminum magnesium alloy, was accidentally created in a lab. That same material was then discovered in a meteorite in the 1990s. Quasicrystals are somewhere between a crystalline and amorphous substance that use the same five-fold rotation symmetry also found in the mathematical Penrose tiling. The Penrose tiling, discovered in the 1970s, fills a flat plane with no gaps, using two rhombus shapes and never repeats. Some aspects of medieval Islamic tile design were based on five-fold and ten-fold rotational symmetry, considered to be a quasicrystal long before any of these discoveries were made.


These patterns channel a deeper meaning that transcends the merely decorative. If quasicrystal patterns permeate such a wide span of time, material, and culture, could we be tapping into something much larger than ourselves? Carl Sagan once said, “We are all made of star-stuff.” That longing for connection to the origins of creation is the driving force behind all my work.



© 2018 Christine Romanell. All Rights Reserved.