By Trudy Myrrh Reagan. Self-published (available from myrrh-art.com), 2019. 135 pages. $50/paperback
Essential Mysteries in Art and Science has almost enough beautiful pictures to be a coffee-table book, but it is so much more! Trudy Myrrh Reagan is an accomplished artist in many media, only a few of which are on display in this volume. Myrrh (Trudy’s art name) was featured in the summer 2019 edition of Types and Shadows, a publication of the Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts, in an article including several of the paintings in Essential Mysteries.
The second half of the book is a series of essays, each using one of her paintings as a jumping-off point. This is where Myrrh explores the theme of how the intrigue of the mysterious unknown is essential to the workings of the scientific mind.
The essay “Number Governs Form” starts from her mandala with a thistle flower surrounded by an amethyst geode, and goes on to discuss the role of geometry in life and art. Fractal patterns such as those in romanesco broccoli and ferns are examples shown. “The ancient Greek Pythagoras and his followers about 2,500 years ago held the fundamental idea that only through number and form can man grasp the nature of the universe”: this is Myrrh’s foundation.
Further essays reveal the wanderlust of Myrrh’s creative mind, as she reflects upon where her life as a scientist and artist has led.
I finally noticed that I was painting about boundaries, the ones that lie between nothing and something, the inert and the living, brain tissue and thought, thinking for survival and thinking for the sheer joy of it.
As we read one of the essays aloud, it became evident how clear and readable the language is, while being evocative of so many fields of research, experience, and expression. These brief treatises lead the reader to thinking for the sheer joy of it. Each essay deserves some time for reflection and listening for the truths revealed.
Many of the essays provide historical perspectives on the growth of understanding in science, and how new knowledge points us toward new unanswered questions. Trudy Myrrh Reagan’s mind is well rooted in history, observant of the present, and anticipating the future. Enjoying Essential Mysteries in Art and Science may have some of the same effect on your mind.
Tom and Sandy Farley are members of Palo Alto (Calif.) Meeting, members of the Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts, volunteer booksellers with EarthLight, and friends with the author.