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This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum Pores Over Pattern

Teresita Fernandez, Night Writing

Opening on March 22 at the four-month-old Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, the exhibit “Pattern: Follow the Rules” riffs on a theme that is close to home—its host building’s exterior. The museum, designed by architect Zaha Hadid and located on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, features steel pleats that envelop it in a light-reflecting skin. Essentially, pattern at its best.

“The architectural element referred to… as a ‘feat of digital engineering’ echoes elements of the paintings, photographs, sculptures and installations that make up ‘Pattern: Follow the Rules,’” says Alison Gass, curator of contemporary art.

One of those pieces, a string drawing called White Wave (2013) by Alyson Shotz, is comprised of thread strung in a pattern around nail heads pounded into the wall, the string and its shadows forming a surprisingly complex viewing experience. Developing her vision via computer, Shotz and her work illustrate another aspect of the exhibit: how the digital world—in particular the repetition and proliferation of pictures, according to Gass—is changing how we interact with and experience art and life in general.

“The rules and systems the artists have engaged embrace the conditions of contemporary visual culture,” says Gass. “Images are everywhere, and they can go on and on and on and on…” March 22 through June 23; E. Circle Dr., East Lansing, MI; 517-353-9836;


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