Bilateral Symmetry


Acrylic on drafting film on wall
18' high x 15' wide (each wall)

Bilateral Symmetry is a painting installation that was created for the Cook County Administration Building in downtown Chicago. The installation is comprised of hundreds of circles that are made by pouring acrylic on drafting film coated with wet paint. The circles are then cut out after they dry and arranged into two monumental grids.

Each grid mirrors—in terms of circle placement and color—the grid across the room. But, like all bilaterally symmetric animals, the two halves of the installation are not exact mirror images. Every circle has a unique size and shape, and there are some embedded circles that do not match the color of the circle on the opposite side. Also, within this subset, there are a few uniquely colored circles; they are the moles or birthmarks of the painting.

Bilateral Symmetry asks the viewer to consider what defines a painting. In the installation, the system of painting has been taken apart and reassembled. Hundreds of paint pours, or “marks,” have been excised from their support and laboriously reconfigured into a new work. Process and serendipity become as important as the final product.

Issues of containment, and the impulse to organize what is messy and particular, are also raised. The installation’s symmetric grids are trying to impose order on hundreds of misshapen, optically exuberant circles as the gravity-molded circles push back against this Cartesian space. Furthermore, the excision of each circle from drafting film is an overt attempt at containment. The implication from their appearance and large number is that the artist is trying to create a perfect circle yet is doomed by her crude technique.