Faculty Guest Blogger: John Meza
John Meza: Yes, it is winter again and with winter’s cold weather come the wonderful and magical snowflakes. Those pure and fragile geometric crystals floating ever so softly to earth. Landing gently on one’s nose and eyelashes. Glorious, delightful and sublime. Divine in their symmetry, simultaneously whimsical and majestic. The perfect intersection of both art and math. Behold the snowflake!
In 2016, and again this season, I had the opportunity to design the store front windows of the Scranton Holiday Market, home of the former Globe department store downtown. I eagerly accepted this challenge as I instantly had a clear and solid idea to implement. The motif I selected for my design was the snowflake, because of its elementary geometry, ability to easily adapt to a variety of incarnations, and its universal seasonal appeal.
Somehow over the last two years, through divine providence I suspect, I became a conduit for drawing snowflakes. I think its crystalline seeds were actually planted in my early childhood and just recently surfaced. The snowflake is based on the number 6, an easy number to work with visually. It’s simple to imagine, fabricate, or subdivide.
Each snowflake I design is unique in its architecture, expression and size. I am able to apply a limited vocabulary of graphic marks in a technique that produces an infinite number of combinations. Basically emulating nature’s process that generates each snowflake as an individual. And just as a jazz musician can pick up a saxophone and create an improvised composition on the spot, I find myself effortlessly improvising with a chalk marker when I am creating my extemporaneous arrangements. While consciously observing the design principles of variety and unity, I am able to execute spontaneous one-of-a-kind drawings with a melodic fluidity.
A second approach I have to designing snowflakes is less organic and spontaneous. Conversely, it is much more ordered and calculated. Here the snowflake is basically executed as a technical drawing. The two approaches seem to complement each other well with a balance of “right brain” and “left brain” dominance.
Another fun feature of the snowflake design is its ability to be easily scaled up to very large dimensions. An Eco-friendly drawing I made in my front yard with an 18” wide plastic snow shovel, measures 38 feet long on the center axis. The drawing was done “by eye” and in about 10 minutes. While on a roll this season, I also “did the windows” for the Letterpress Workshop on Adams Avenue, Bella Pizza in Clifford and Chet’s Bar and Restaurant in Uniondale.