Jessica Wynne: Do Not Erase

31 August - 9 October 2021
  •                        

    Laura Balzano, University of Michigan, 2019

    Archival pigment print

    Signed by the artisttitleddatedand editioned on labelmount verso

    Illustrated: Jessica WynneDo Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards (Princeton: Princeton University Press2021)cover [detail] & p. 23.

     

    30 x 53 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs 

    40 x 70 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

  • Edwynn Houk Gallery is pleased to announce our inaugural exhibition of artworks by Jessica Wynne (American, b. 1972), on view from 2 September – 9 October 2021. The show includes medium- and large-scale photographs from the artist’s newest body of work, Do Not Erase, images of mathematicians’ chalkboards and the formulas scribbled and erased on them.

     

    Do Not Erase contemplates the meaning, emotion, and energy of symbols. Wynne's photographs— which can easily be mistaken for three-dimensional chalkboards— illuminate the narrative, linguistic, and visionary elements of these representations, providing timeless meditation on the abstraction and intimacy of visual expression. 

    • chalkboard with mathematical expositions formulas written by Tadashi Tokieda, Stanford University, from Do Not Erase series by Jessica Wynne

      Tadashi TokiedaStanford University, 2019

      Archival pigment print

      Signed by the artisttitleddatedand editioned on labelmount verso

      Illustrated: Jessica WynneDo Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards (Princeton: Princeton University Press2021)p. 17.

       

      30 x 46 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

    • KEITH BURNS, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, 2019 Archival pigment print Signed by the artist, titled, dated, and editioned on label, mount verso Illustrated: Jessica Wynne, Do Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021), p. 63. Approximately 30 x 50 inches, from an edition of 12 + 2 APs

      KEITH BURNS, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, 2019

      Archival pigment print

      Signed by the artisttitleddatedand editioned on labelmount verso

      Illustrated: Jessica Wynne, Do Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards (Princeton: Princeton University Press2021)p. 63.

       

      Approximately 30 x 50 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

  • To me, working on a blackboard is like painting a portrait of the mathematical problems in my mind. These "portraits" should be accurate, yet also personal in their details, reflecting what I know about a problem and why it is interesting to me. Painting one of these portraits on a blakckoard can bring a problem to life: it proves a concrete image of a problem that is, more often than not, highly abstract, an image that I can share with other people to convey my ideas. For these reasons, working on blackboards has become an inseparable part of my teaching and research. 

     

    —Boya Song, currently a PhD student at MIT studying physical applied math, advised by Professor Jörn Dunkel (full essay p. 180). This blackboard shows Song's attempt to understand the Vicsek model, a mathematical model that describes collective behavior and movement.

    To me, working on a blackboard is like painting a portrait of the mathematical problems in my mind. These 'portraits'...

    Archival pigment print

    Signed by the artisttitleddatedand editioned on labelmount verso

    Illustrated: Jessica Wynne, Do Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards (Princeton: Princeton University Press2021)p. 181 [variant cropping].

     

    36 x 46 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

    47 x 60 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

    • Formulas on chalkboard by mathematician Philippe Michele, from the Do Not Erase series by Jessica Wynne

      Philippe MichelSwiss Institute of Technology2019

      Archival pigment print

      Signed by the artisttitleddatedand editioned on labelmount verso

      Illustrated: Jessica Wynne, Do Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards (Princeton: Princeton University Press2021)p. 3.

       

      30 x 50 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

      42 x 70 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

    • YVES ANDRE, FRENCH NATIONAL RESEARCH CENTER, 2019 Archival pigment print Signed by the artist, titled, dated, and editioned on label, mount verso Illustrated: Jessica Wynne, Do Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021), p. 91. Approximately 30 x 50 inches, from an edition of 12 + 2 APs

      YVES ANDRE, FRENCH NATIONAL RESEARCH CENTER, 2019

      Archival pigment print

      Signed by the artisttitleddatedand editioned on labelmount verso

      Illustrated: Jessica WynneDo Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards (Princeton: Princeton University Press2021)p. 91.

       

      Approximately 30 x 50 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

  • In my own work, blackboards feature not only as the main way to teach courses and deliver lectures but also as the most effective way to exchange ideas when working with collaborators. During the months since mid-March 2020, we have all been forced, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to replace the traditional blackboard with more sophisticated electronic alternatives. This experience convinced me that blackboards cannot be replaced electronically, and they will keep playing a crucial role in my work and in the work of my professional colleagues in the coming years.

    —Noga Alon, professor of mathematics at Princeton University and professor emeritus of mathematicis and computer science at Tel Aviv University (full essay p. 52). He works in combinatorics and graphc theory and their applications in theoretical computer science. He is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and has received several awards, including the Pólya Prize, Gödel Prize, Israel Prize, and Emet Prize.

    In my own work, blackboards feature not only as the main way to teach courses and deliver lectures but also...

    Noga AlonPrinceton University2019

    Archival pigment print

    Signed by the artisttitleddatedand editioned on labelmount verso

    Illustrated: Jessica WynneDo Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards (Princeton: Princeton University Press2021), p. 53 [variant cropping].

     

    30 x 45 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

     

  • What does thought look like? As Jessica Wynne shows us, the action of the mind might have no external expression as eloquent as the human, timebound, build-it-up-and-break-it-back-down surface of a working thinker's chalkboard. Wynne's daringly soft-spoken photographs testify at once to the breadth, concreteness, and quietly thrilling historical depth of mathematical thinking as a way of life.

     

    —Joel Smith, Morgan Library & Museum

    • Chalkboard with formulas by Will Sawin, Columbia University, from the Do Not Erase series by Jessica Wynne

      Will SawinColumbia University2019

      Archival pigment print

      Signed by the artisttitleddatedand editioned on labelmount verso

      Illustrated: Jessica WynneDo Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards (Princeton: Princeton University Press2021)p. 29.

       

      30 x 49-1/2 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

    • Chalkboard with erasures and mathematical formulas by Bruno Kahn, from the Do Not Erase series by Jessica Wynne

      Bruno KahnCentre national de la recherche scientifique2019

      Archival pigment print

      Signed by the artisttitleddatedand editioned on labelmount verso

      Illustrated: Jessica WynneDo Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards (Princeton: Princeton University Press2021)p. 179 [variant cropping].

       

      30 x 57 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

       

  • I love art, and if I had not found mathematics, I would have tried to become a professional artist. I do a lot of painting on the side, nothing abstract — a lot of oil portraits, drawing, and prints.

    Enrico Bombieri, an Italian mathematician known for his research in number theory, alegebraic geometry, complex analysis, and group theory (full essay p. 166). He is currently professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

    I love art, and if I had not found mathematics, I would have tried to become a professional artist. I...

    ENRICO BOMBIERI, INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDY, 2019

    Archival pigment print

    Signed by the artist, titled, dated, and editioned on label, mount verso

    Illustrated: Jessica Wynne: Do Not Erase (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021) p. 167.

     

    Approximately 30 x 50 inches, from an edition of 12 + 2 APs

    • Blackboard with mathematical formulas by Michael Harris, Columbia University, from the Do Not Erase series by Jessica Wynne

      Archival pigment print

      Signed by the artisttitleddatedand editioned on labelmount verso

      Illustrated: Jessica WynneDo Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards (Princeton: Princeton University Press2021)p. 65 [variant cropping].

       

      30 x 50 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

    • Jessica Wynne John Terilla blackboard with mathematical chalk drawings

      John TerillaQueens College2019

      Archival pigment print

      Signed by the artisttitleddatedand editioned on labelmount verso

      Illustrated: Jessica Wynne, Do Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards (Princeton: Princeton University Press2021), p. 77 [variant cropping].

       

      30 x 59-1/2from an edition of 12 + 2 APs

      40 x 80 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

  • Blackboards engender optimism. When you confront your profound ignorance of what the universe is made of every day, you need something to pick you up. Erasing a big blackboard and standing in front of it, you get the feeling that it's just waiting there, ready for something great to happen.

    -Jonathan Feng is professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine (full essay p. 66). The formulas on this blackboard, he hopes, will contribute to scientists' first glimpse into what makes up most of the universe.

    Blackboards engender optimism. When you confront your profound ignorance of what the universe is made of every day, you need...

    Archival pigment print

    Signed by the artisttitleddatedand editioned on labelmount verso

    Illustrated: Jessica WynneDo Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards (Princeton: Princeton University Press2021)p. 67.

     

    30 x 50 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

    45 x 75 inchesfrom an edition of 12 + 2 APs

  • I am attracted to the timeless beauty and physicality of the mathematicians’ chalkboard, and to their higher aspiration to uncover the truth and solve a problem. Their imagination guides them and they see images first, not words. They see pictures before meaning.

     

    —Jessica Wynne, in an interview with Dennis Overbye for The New York Times

  • New Monograph: "Do Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards"

    Published by Princeton University Press 2021

    “A mathematician, like a painter or poet, is a maker of patterns,” wrote the British mathematician G. H. Hardy. In Do Not Erase, photographer Jessica Wynne presents remarkable examples of this idea through images of mathematicians’ chalkboards. While other fields have replaced chalkboards with whiteboards and digital presentations, mathematicians remain loyal to chalk for puzzling out their ideas and communicating their research. Wynne offers more than one hundred stunning photographs of these chalkboards, gathered from a diverse group of mathematicians around the world. The photographs are accompanied by essays from each mathematician, reflecting on their work and processes. Together, pictures and words provide an illuminating meditation on the unique relationships among mathematics, art, and creativity.


    Do Not Erase is a testament to the myriad ways that mathematicians use their chalkboards to reveal the conceptual and visual beauty of their discipline—shapes, figures, formulas, and conjectures created through imagination, argument, and speculation.

     

    book cover of Do Not Erase by Jessica Wynne

    Purchase from Princeton Press 

     

     

  • ABOUT THE ARTIST

    Jessica Wynne studied at the San Francisco Art Institute and Yale University before moving to New York City in 1999. She was first introduced to the beauty of chalkboards through her neighbors Amie Wilkinson and Benson Farb, mathematics professors from the University of Chicago. Intrigued by the imagery she saw on these boards, Wynne directed her focus on capturing—rather than deciphering—the meaning and beauty of these symbols. Reminiscent of Cy Twombly’s “blackboard” paintings and Brice Marden’s serpentine Letters canvases, Wynne’s blackboards illuminate the power of the whirling web of shapes, numbers, and calculations scribbled in the heat of discovery.

     

    Wynne is associate professor of photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her photographs are in collections at the Morgan Library & Museum, New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and have been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art. Her work has been feautred in The New York Times, The Guardian, The New YorkerNational Geographic, and Fortune. During the duration of her solo exhibition at Edwynn Houk Gallery, her works will also be on view at The Armory Show 2021, Javits Center, Booth 217 (9 - 12 September) and at Art Basel, Booth F11 (24 - 26 September). Wynne lives in New York City.