The intricate fabric of the universe is stitched together with a number of very repeatable, very familiar patterns and shapes. Through the study and contemplation of these geometric figures, people, since time began, have attempted to make sense of the cosmos.
Or such is the idea behind the study of sacred geometry, which Hughesville artist Damon McCloskey spent a semester exploring last year as part of his studies with Goddard College, a low-residency school based in Plainfield, Vt.
All of McCloskey’s work throughout the term, a self-created course that included research, writing, drawing, and painting, explored humanity’s geometric expressions of reverence throughout the ages.
The mandalas of Hinduism and Buddhism, the Platonic and Archimedean solids of the Greeks, the 13 circles of Metatron’s Cube, and the designs of cathedrals and temples, which incorporate the Golden Ratio, all reflect patterns artists have observed repeating in nature, McCloskey said.
“Any crystal has geometry. They’re full of bits and bits of tiny particles that don’t require human manipulation. There’s the geometric spiral to the
double helix pattern of our DNA. Things are being replicated again and again on a biological level that is autonomous – there looks like there’s an intelligence behind it. Whether that’s an alternative form of consciousness we can’t pinpoint, it’s doing it in a manner that is measurable. There’s design there.”
McCloskey found in his work that though these patterns are just “angles in space,” people around the world have based on them visual systems that represent their concepts of God, the void, and beauty.
The sacred art of Tibetans and the Navajo is one example of peoples who have created works, on opposite sides of the globe, that appear very similar, McCloskey said.
“These patterns work – even living in so-called primitive or tribal society, these principles are still workable. You can still find your way by the stars. These are billboards that have been there for a million years, have always been there, that are not going to go away.”
The five Platonic solids that so attracted the ancient Greeks, those three-dimensional shapes that have the same number of faces meeting at every vertex (think of playing dice), provide another mind-stretching concept for contemplation, McCloskey says.
“You can fit a sphere inside every Platonic solid. You can actually fit a model of our world inside these geometric forms that are the building blocks of everything else that is on our world. Looking and toying with how these work, it becomes mesmerizing.”
The Platonic solids can be applied from the universal to the atomic scale. Robert Moon, a 20th century scientist, was inspired by Kepler’s model of the universe to theorize that the nucleus of atoms are ordered according to a Platonic pattern.
Those oft-repeating patterns that have become sacred to peoples ancient and modern reflect the basic human desire to find constancy in the universe, McCloskey says.
“You can’t stand on a beach and look out on an ocean without acknowledging the beach you’re standing on is a collection of very tiny particles of sand – that thought gives you stability. These crystalline figures are working next to similar figures to make up a larger whole. Looking at the world through this lens allows you to recognize there are patterns on which your very existence is built upon.”