My name is Rosemarie Forsythe. I’m a painter
and I live in Great Falls, Virginia.
My main inspiration comes from illuminated
manuscripts of the 15th century,
and I tend to use a lot of math and
physics and science in my painting.
My interest in art is lifelong. And during my
careers as a diplomat and a business executive,
wherever I went, I always went to museums.
I always met with artists. I collected artists.
So I immersed myself in it. But I didn’t.
I didn’t have the time. Every job I’ve ever had
has been one of those 24, seven kind of jobs.
And I would use art to relax.
one of the first time I ever saw an illuminated
manuscript interestingly was in Armenia.
It was at the Matenadaran Manuscript Library
and at the time, this was decades and decades ago.
And the man who showed me these illuminated
manuscripts was Levon Ter-Petrosyan,
who eventually he wasn’t then, but much later
he became the president of
Armenia and I was posted there.
I was the first kind of permanent US diplomat
posted that is not a temporary duty person,
and Ter-Petrosyan had this. Just his scholarly
background was all about these illuminated
manuscripts. And so there was a kind of
connection between my diplomatic career
and my career later as an artist.
In fact, I think I probably wouldn’t be the kind
of artist I am if I had had these experiences.
My art is all about ideas and whether there is
science with math or or maybe a set of symbols.
A lot of my work is about
women, sort of women scientists and I have an
ongoing series. I call it my Wise Woman series, and I
love researching the work that these women did and
also highlighting their struggle to be recognized.
You think of all the science and accomplishments
that must have been lost because they couldn’t
even get into university or graduate school or get
jobs. And I like highlighting these women because
even after all that, well, as difficult
as it was for them to move through,
they had this incredible love of
science and they persevered in that
way, so their accomplishments
are even more incredible.
My style, I suppose, are illuminated manuscripts
because I love that combination of matte color and
gold. It just is so beautiful to me, and I think
that kind of art just really always moved me.
I would look at it and think, Wow, what,
what magic? And instead of, you know,
the 15th century, they were mostly religious
paintings because the church had the money for
these expensive paints and pigments.
But my modern take on it is to use
math and science as sort of a very
contemporary take on this beautiful sort of
style. And I just really loved making them.
I did a lot of research into what
gives you joy when I retired.
I followed that and it led me to a
career in painting and now it took me
a year or two to really figure out how I wanted
to do it and what would make my work distinctive
. But I wanted to do something deep
and intellectual like me. But also,
you know, I wanted to create works of
art, and I didn’t want to just create
any kind of work of art. I wanted to do something
very distinctive and inspired by my life.
This very rich life abroad, and it took a
long time once I decided what I wanted to do
because I had painting full time events and
working in these more than full time jobs. So I it
took me a year to kind of develop that look, and
I have an idea, and then I go into the research
phase. I keep track with my process and my
ideas with notebooks. And then I develop them.
So I spend a lot of time and research on that.
Sometimes on some of the physics equations
it can take months until I really, really
understand something well enough to paint it.
And then I decide on the symbols, and I have
about probably 30 books on symbols, and I spend
a lot of time figuring out
what would be appropriate.
Then the next step is to move towards
the actual kind of painting framework.
I choose the size of the canvas. I choose
three to five colors. And once I have this
framework, then the rest of it is pretty
intuitive. I do everything in layers. I put
them on the strips of paper so I can hold it up to
a painting and see whether I think they’ll work.
And a lot of times it’s layered
in with gold, and that’s
that’s what gives my paintings this sort of three
dimensional look, and it’s how I weave in the
gold. I try out how the
layers look with each other.
It’ll start with just one layer of
paint doesn’t look that great. And then
I would say after there
are three different colors,
I kind of layer on top of each other and
then I put the little gold rivets on them.
That’s when they they really
begin to come to light.
It’s pretty thrilling for me, actually.
I spent eleven years as a U.S. diplomat
foreign service officer, and I in fact
use some of my declassified cables
from the end of the Soviet Union in some of my
art, and I like the idea of coming full circle.
I started as a diplomat and then did other
things. I worked in international business,
and now I’ve kind of come back
to do diplomacy in a new way
The two works I have going to Amman. one is
the 17 equations that changed the world
is probably my favorite equation painting,
and the other painting is called Rise, and
it has a lot of symbols of resilience, renewal
and transformation. And they both I think they
were both chosen together because they had
trees in them, which for me is a wonderful symbol
of unity in some ways . So when I do the equations,
I like to use these interlocking wave
patterns in the tops of the trees because
to me, it shows how the equations are
related to each other and they work
together to sort of serve as the basis
of our modern world. There are probably
25 symbols of renewal and transformation in it.
You have everything from the ouroboros,
which is the symbol of self-renewal
and I etched into the trunks.
These Celtic symbols for renewal, and others like roosters. And one of my favorites and the painting is filled with it
are eggs. And because I spent a lot of time as
a Russian specialist, they are Faberge eggs
and I had such a great time looking at
Faberge eggs and looking at patterns and
using gold leaf to make them.
So I really am so excited to have
those two paintings on view together.