InSTAR Students Meet the Oakes Twins

InSTAR Students Meet the Oakes Twins

Kathleen Esfahany, Science Editor

On Tuesday, April 4th, InSTAR students took a bus to the Simons Center at Stony Brook University to attend a lecture by artists Trevor and Ryan Oakes. The Oakes use biology and mathematics to create intricate drawings, paintings, and sculptures.

The lecturers explained how they developed their unique style of two-dimensional art, characterized by vertical strips of paper connected over a slightly curved plane. The Oakes twins found that they could manipulate the visual processing system to allow them to trace reality onto their paper. By positioning their eyes in a specific way, they were able to overlay their view of their paper and the scenery behind it. Their technique has produced stunning works that are featured across the nation.

The Oakes twins also discussed their sculptures. Those on display were made with pipe cleaners and matchsticks. Their mathematically-inspired work is much more complex than one might assume. By following and bending the rules of geometry, the Oakes twins produced many interesting pieces, such as a dome of matchsticks and sinusoidal waves of pipe cleaners.

The InSTAR students had the opportunity to view these pieces and ask questions about the Oakes’ work. To finish the day, all students received sandwich lunches.

You can learn more about Ryan and Trevor Oakes’ work on their website,