Space, Physics, and Math

(Math + Art) × Fun = Mathemalchemy!

The inside scoop on a mathematics fever dream turned artistic playground for all math lovers (and haters too)

March 15, 2024
Picture showing the Mathemalchemy exhibit
A playful alchemy of math, art and creative storytelling has become a full-blown art exhibition called Mathemalchemy [Credit: Kevin Allen | Mathemalchemy]

Boredom under COVID quarantine led many to pursue some strange side hobby, but for 24 mathematicians and artists, it resulted in Mathemalchemy — a collective of mathematically (aesthetically, too) charming pieces of art — from cryptographic quilts, huge parabolas of embroidered spheres, crochet theta curves caught in fishing nets and murals of OctoPi, seen generating various wave-related equations per every water ripple. 

A picture of Tess the Tortoise, a crochet tortoise with a ceramic shell

Every part of Mathemalchemy harbors a unique story, including Tess the Tortoise’s journey to learn about infinity [Credit: Elizabeth Paley | Mathemalchemy]

For the “Mathemalchemists,” their project is a lively, whimsical invitation into the world of mathematics, made for an audience of all ages and interests. The goal is to illustrate how math can be fun — not something schools force you to do, but something that leaves you inspired.

So, how did this project come to be? What makes Mathemalchemy so special, both for the Mathemalchemists and anyone that comes across the exhibition? In this podcast, Gayoung Lee goes behind the scenes of Mathemalchemy with co-founders Ingrid Daubechies and Dominique Ehrmann, in addition to Mathemalchemists Jessica Sklar, Elizabeth Paley and Carolyn Yackel.

You can also listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher.


Pglet Into” by Blue Dot Sessions | CC BY-NC 4.0 

The Gran Dias” by Blue Dot Sessions | CC BY-NC 4.0 

Spring Cleaning” by Blue Dot Sessions | CC BY-NC 4.0

About the Author

Gayoung Lee

Gayoung Lee is a science writer and illustrator from South Korea. A philosopher by training, her interests lie in uncovering and writing about the unexpected connections between the world and various scientific phenomena, particularly in theoretical physics and chemistry. Her latest hyperfixation concerns the mathematical roundness of the game character Kirby.


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