Author’s Spotlight: Slice of Life

Slice of Life, paintings and prints by Alan Singer (essay by Anne C. Coon), School of Art, College of Imaging Arts and Sciences

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A. Sue Weisler

Alan Singer still recalls years ago when, as a student in New York City, his teachers often said there was no formula for creating art. He’s proven them wrong.

“With my new art, that is exactly what I use to conjure my imagery—the visualizations of equations,” observed Singer, a School of Art professor in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.

In his new book, Slice of Life, Singer reveals a select portfolio of paintings and prints created over the last two decades that embrace mathematical concepts—and show how this new direction has dramatically changed the look of his artwork.

An accompanying essay by former RIT colleague Anne C. Coon further details Singer’s exploration of art and mathematics and the progression from natural images—he and his late father once designed and illustrated birds and flowers of the 50 states for a series of award-winning postage stamps for the U.S. Postal Service—before his dramatic changeover to abstraction and the use of a computer as a tool to make art.

“What drew me in to work with numbers along with my paints and papers was the ubiquitous tool that is the computer,” Singer said. “When I first came to teach at RIT in 1988, computer drawing was still a new concept for me. Since I also had to teach students how to use the computer, I took night classes to stay in sync with everyone here.”

Color and composition combined with surprising qualities that visualization software can offer is key to describing Singer’s art. Previous artists who have employed mathematical imagery, including Albrecht Durer’s Melancholia and more recently paintings by American Sol Lewitt, inspired Singer.

“In part, my goal is to bring new forms to visual art and explore the possibilities,” he said. “I am not a mathematician; I am a visual artist that employs tools that make my work interesting and challenging. I am excited about what lies ahead and the new discoveries yet to be made.”