Fluorescent bars wrapped in crocheted cylinders. Glowing neon draped in tangled yarn. Tree-like structures of light sprouting leaves of knitwork. Exploring an Alex Trimino art exhibition can feel like wandering through an exotic, synthetic jungle -- a surreal spectacle.
The Colombian artist studied art at Florida International University and earned a bachelor's degree in art and a master's in sculpture. Along the way, she began exploring the themes that had followed her since childhood: science -- a subject in which she says she has always been interested -- and the traditional crafts of Colombia.
"Crocheting and knitting is a tradition where I come from," the 40-year-old explains, "but it was something I completely rejected growing up. I thought, Oh my God, nothing that has to do with being domestic -- no cooking, no crocheting, no knitting."
She began constructing towers of light, manipulated by high-tech microcontrollers and adorned with her own crocheted and knitted accents. At first she was hoping to exploit what she saw as the drastic difference between traditional crafts and modern technology.
But as she alternated between programming the controllers and crocheting the yarn, she realized the two are more similar than she first thought. Hyperbolic geometry, the type of mathematical model used to create the algorithms that programmed her microcontrollers, is also used in crocheting.
"It's kind of incredible to think about all of these women who were crocheting at the kitchen table and understanding hyperbolic geometry at a very intuitive level," Trimino says. "That's when the light pieces came together, when I realized I wasn't contrasting; I was putting them on the same level."
There's something else that art and technology share: Women are underrepresented in both. Trimino says she didn't set out to make a feminist statement in her work, but she acknowledges that the message underpins her work. "Without the intention of doing it, I do some type of comparing gender-related work. The crocheting is more related to women, and all of this technology -- the controllers, the lights -- is more related to men."
By creating art that points out their similarities, Trimino equalizes the two.
"I think we're all influenced by feminism," she says. "We have this misconception of feminism being women burning bras and hating men, but it's really just equal rights for men and women. So, yes, my work is influenced by feminism."
But, Trimino emphasizes, that's just her opinion. She'd much rather let viewers draw their own conclusions about what her work represents. "I never expect the viewer to see the math that I see in my work. I think most people think they're interesting; they find the combination of materials interesting. But I don't think I set out to have the viewer see something in particular. I don't think about that when I'm doing the work."
This year's three MasterMind Award winners will be announced February 26 at Artopia, our annual soirée celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit newtimesartopia.com.
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