It is interesting that American ceramist Ruth Borgenicht started out as a mathematician. Her undergraduate degree at the prestigious Rutgers University in the United States was in mathematics. However, she is quick to point out - perhaps with too much modesty given the extraordinary quality of her ceramic art - that “Love of mathematics was not enough to invent new ideas in this field.
Unfortunately for me that also required genius. The discovery that I could be far more creative with clay than with math came to me during my last year of university.”
One need not be conversant in advanced math to recognize the inherent philosophical and mathematical depths to be found in her art. It can be strongly argued that the genius of her ceramic art is the equal to whatever she may have discovered had she limited herself solely to mathematics.
Much of the history of Europe, the Americas, and Asia can be ascribed to the quality of the chain mail worn under ancient and medieval armor. Made of tiny interlocking metal rings, it protected a body and still enabled mobile combat. It was a decisive factor in the outcome of innumerable battles and indeed the success of an entire war. Borgenicht uses the chain mail pattern and other woven patterns to create ceramic works that conjure up a sense of both permanence and defensive concealment. Like the ancient armor, her pieces are made of a fabric of moveable interlocking rings. Using clay to make a protective mesh is in many ways the ultimate contradiction. For how can it defend anything, much less itself? Visually stone like, the pieces appear strong and impenetrable, belying their inherent fragility.
Ruth Borgenicht is an international prizewinner and widely exhibited it museums and private collections.