Lynn Torbeck is a retired Evanston statistician and the latest featured artist in our ongoing exhibition series Local Art @ EPL. His show – Art in Science – is currently on display on the 2nd floor of EPL’s Main Library where you can catch it through April 30th. Intrigued by Piet Mondrian and inspired by mathematics, he explores creativity by restricting themes, graphical elements, and color for a result that is bold, linear, and hard edge. We recently spoke with him via email about his artistic origins, creative process, and future plans.
Evanston Public Library: Can you tell us a little about your background as an artist? How did you get started in art? Was there something specific in your life that sparked a need to create? What drove you in the beginning? What drives you now?
Lynn Torbeck: I don’t think of myself as an artist since I spent my career as a statistical consultant. Retiring in 2010, I found extra time on my hands and in need of some activity. I always enjoyed going to the Art Institute and so I became a member. I checked a couple of art books out of the Evanston library for casual reading. In doing so, I found works by Piet Mondrian. He is the artist that most people never heard of but instantly say, “I have seen that before.” The power of his work is the restrictions he set for himself: primary colors, rectangles, squares, lines and lots of white space. Interestingly, he made 53 works with the same set of restrictions. With that I could do a statistically analysis! That encouraged me to try some painting myself. Given my statistical/engineering training, I approached my works more as mechanical drawing on graph paper. My creativity was sparked by this form. I realized that a lot of science and math concepts could be visualized this way leading to a number of works.
EPL: How do you describe your art?
LT: Concrete, hard edge and color field.
EPL: Can you give us a window into your creative process? When and where do you work?
LT: I get ideas from science articles and math books. I work out of a spare room in our condo. My works are small, most are 12″ by 12.”
EPL: What are your future goals and plans as an artist?
LT: I have no shortage of sources for ideas. I plan to continue studying Mondrian to understand the power of his work.
EPL: What inspires you as an artist about the community where you live?
LT: The wide range of activities in so many areas. It is an exciting place to live and work. Unique really.
Interview by Russell J.