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Connecting the Dots
Sum of Parts illuminates the whole of conceptual collage

Aristotle’s principle, “the whole is more than the sum of its parts,” is a widely debated mathematical position. But while the idea might not compute in the finite world, in theory, and especially in art, it makes perfect sense. When speaking of collage and multi-media works in particular, parts are often made up of disparate objects and medium, all of which are conjoined in the artist’s mind and then processed out into tangible form.

In dba256’s Sum of Parts, we find not only displays of this collage process, but often the repetition of forms that are not at all dissimilar—yet tampered with enough to create fragmentation and cohesion all at the same time.

Two of Irene Abraham’s acrylic on panel pieces do exactly this. Ironically, Abraham has a background in a scientific discipline—a research biologist—and so intrinsically knows about sums and parts. It’s no wonder then that all of her pieces evoke cellular images—especially “Strange Bedfellows” and “Random Acts”—orderly jumbles of circles and disks all painted in muted modern tones of tangerine, lemon yellow, brick red and copper brown, almost like records or earthy gumballs, scattered across textured, deep blue and brown washes. The disks are at once stagnant and in motion—what one might really see through a microscope, if it’s a fun, party-inclined microscope that is. Her two Mylar pieces also channel a scientific feeling—in toy land—with blue-green and orangey-brown acrylic dots connected by drips that meld into skyscrapers and industrial buildings made from Tinker Toys—or maybe they’re just amino acids. DNA? Fun, all the way around, nevertheless.
Stacy Davies, [ Inland Empire Weekly]

Sum of Parts Exhibition Essay

...Irene Abraham http://www.ireneabraham.com used to be a research biologist. Her work is, not surprisingly, often analytical. Her drawings look like maps, and some of her grid paintings look like histograms or 2D Fourier Transforms. She consciously presents mappings between logical systems. As with the algorist group OuPeinPo, she enjoys the problem solving necessary from imposing constraints. In her Sudoku-based paintings, she uses the structure of such puzzles to evoke "questions about how we perceive and read image and pattern." Besides this cultural decoding, her drawings and her grid paintings (both the free-form and the systematic ones) seem to visually create rhythms in the brain: the grids are the pulse and the foregrounds the overlaid rhythm...
Kathryn Hargreaves


BoomTime Catalog
...Irene Abraham considers another boom current, working with number and especially with pattern - maps, charts, data, and graphs - marrying the rigors of scientific measurement with the aesthetics and visceral mysteries of art. In doing so, she references the analytical engines that continue to drive scientific and technological advances that benefit and challenge us. Through her art, Abraham questions the codes of technological invention and control while acknowledging and celebrating their discoveries and beauty. , Diane Gage