Artist Interview: Daina Taimina

Daina has a joie de vivre that is contagious.  She exudes an understated excitement of discovery that imparts confidence in her students and draws everyone into a conversation that seamlessly integrates the language of math with that of fiber artists from all backgrounds.  Last year she co-taught a sold out course with Katharine Cobey that encouraged knitters and hookers alike to break into three dimensional design.  This year we’ve asked her to teach a crochet class for students who want to learn the fundamentals of crochet and break into shape making…either for its own sake or to create embellishments for knit, felted and woven projects of all sorts.  You can scroll down and find her all day Thursday class here.

Daina in Riga Latvia presenting at the Riga TED Talks

Daina in Riga Latvia presenting at the Riga TED Talks

What is your background?

I am Latvian who came to USA in 1997 after 20 years of teaching mathematics in University of Latvia in Riga.

How do you develop your own style?

I think my style is somehow determined by my mathematical education if we talk about “hyperbolic crochet”. But it is also influenced by long traditions of handcrafts in Latvia. For color schemes I look in nature – nature is always right in choosing tones.

Part of the Manifold

Part of the Manifold

How does your early work differ from what you are doing now?

Originally my work was purely mathematical but eventually I started to experiment varying forms. After injuring my shoulder I have to be more careful how much I knit and crochet, and therefore I am thinking of returning to watercolors which was the beginning of me becoming an artist. If in fiber art I am diverging from mathematics, in watercolors I am from landscapes and still lives going towards mathematical content 😉

What project has given you the most satisfaction and why?

My manifolds series – Manifolds I and Manifolds II. The first series were created about 5 years ago. The second series is my latest project and they  were created last year in memory of brilliant mathematician and wonderful person Bill Thurston who untimely passed away. His work has been an inspiration for me from the very beginning of creating hyperbolic crochet, and he was very supportive of what I was doing. I treasure the forward he wrote to my book “Crocheting Adventures with the Hyperbolic Planes” where he said: Mathematics sings when we feel it in our whole brain.”

Manifold Series in Blue and Orange

Manifold Series in Blue and Orange

Tell us about your studio and how you work.

I do not have particular studio space. My crochet work is done in front TV watching movies, earlier – waiting for my children after their sport practice, dance and music lessons, waiting when teenagers are home finally at night, travelling.

Where do you imagine your work in five years?

No clue, honestly. Life makes unexpected turns so suddenly.

At a party, how do you introduce yourself in response to the inevitable question: “so what do you do?”

I am mathematical artist. I teach mathematics when I have a chance to do so, give talks and workshops, and make crocheted forms of hyperbolic geometry.

Daina's work contributed significantly to the Coral Reef Project

Daina’s work contributed significantly to the Coral Reef Project

What is your dream project?

To make installation crocheted in wire so that light and actual physical form would have an interplay.

What wouldn’t you do without?

Without a chance to travel and meet old friends and new people. I am always opened to adventures. Tomorrow I leave for my greatest adventure – a trip to China. I hope something new will come out of it.

Daina in Riga Latvia presenting at the Riga TED Talks

Daina in Riga Latvia presenting at the Riga TED Talks

What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

I think this is what I should think about – so far nothing I could really say is creative pattern. To have handicraft in my hands when watching TV – does it count? It is routine for me to check my e-mail, Facebook and Twitter accounts in the morning and before bedtime. For a while I was trying more less regularly writing my blog but recently for various reasons I have very few entries.

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