Friday, October 30, 2009

You've Got Rhythm, Child

Rhythm is a phenomenon of nature that can be found anywhere. We can find rhythm in the dripping of a raindrop, in the buzz of a moving fan, or even in the repeated slats of a fence. Therefore, rhythm does not only apply to music, as it is typically referred to, but it can also apply to art and design. Rhythm is the repetition or alternation of elements of a creation. Applied to design, this means that repeated characteristics bring rhythm and unity to a creation.
Recently, I attended an art exhibit at the Nelson Art Gallery at UC Davis on quilts by African American artists. These quilts were perfect examples of rhythm in design as each one had repeating and alternating patterns. My personal favorite was Avis Collins Robinson’s “Piano Keys.” Flat lines of vivid colors cover the quilt, running into each other abruptly. Lines of similar colors, yellow, red, blue, and black, are repeated in varying lengths, bringing rhythm along with interesting asymmetry. This rhythm is not soft and quiet; the bright colors and flat lines create an upbeat, sharp rhythm that keeps the viewer’s eyes engaged with the image. It is as if we are looking at a quick jazz song interpreted into an art piece. The name “Piano Keys” reiterates the association of the piece with music. Viewing art such as this is a way to connect two parts of our society, music and images, into one creation.
(picture courtesy of my cell phone)

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