When Amy tells Sheldon that their friends Leonard and Penny’s relationship is complicated in “The Big Bang Theory” episode “The Decoupling Fluctuation,” the quirky physicist rebuffs the notion, matter-of-factly replying, “String theory is complicated.” Yes, string theory is complicated, and as Sheldon would discover, so too are relationships.
In seeking to visualize the dynamics of human relationships through her art, Milisa Galazzi has found string theory to be a perfect metaphor—hence the name of her series of hanging sculptural works, “String Theory.” After all, quantum physics is really, at its core, about the nature of physical connections. “I’m using my art and their science together,” Galazzi says, referring to theoretical physicists, “and that feels like a marriage of people who are really endeavoring to understand humans and how we interact in the physical world.”
To create a piece in her “String Theory” series, Galazzi, an Orleans native, draws a continuation of loops on medium-weight water color paper, poking holes in the drawing and then hand-sewing thread into those lines, eventually cutting out the creation along the stitches and coating the three-dimensional piece in hot beeswax. This takes her hundreds of hours to complete. Galazzi, who majored in studio art and double minored in women’s studies and cultural anthropology at Brown University, says these pieces, with their shadows and negative space, speak to the detritus of women’s lives.
“This whole body of work really references that tradition of laborious women’s work that is underappreciated,” she explains. “That’s one of the reasons I chose white thread on white paper on a white wall. I kind of wanted to erase the hundred-plus hours of work in it as a way to speak to the invisible work of women over generations and generations—mending, fixing, sewing, taking care of children. What you can’t see, or what’s not there, is more important than what remains.”
Science finds its way into Galazzi’s work again in her series titled “Mitosis.” She started the series of encaustic monotype paintings on paper four years ago after her oldest son left for college, as she contemplated how strange it felt to have a piece of herself now gone in a sense. The images in the paintings resemble cellular forms, like the viewer is looking into a petri dish under a microscope. “I’m using the idea of cell division as a metaphor for how we connect with our past generations and our future generations,” she says.
Connecting with a past generation—her grandmother, who died when Galazzi was in college—is what prompted Galazzi’s earliest professional work of collage pieces, which featured buttons, threads and found objects from her grandmother’s button box, now safely stowed in her Pawtucket studio. As her work has morphed over the last 30-plus years, Galazzi may utilize a variety of different mediums—she recently began pursuing a series of asemic line drawings, i.e. non-semantic gestures—but everything always comes back to human connection.
“The big idea is that these objects that I make… these are just footprints of my thinking,” she says. “I think my best art is when I’ve left my track, my object, and then you can have your own experience with that.”