Archives for posts with tag: complexity

This article was originally posted in The Whiteboard, a blog serving Connecticut’s entrepreneurial community.  Michael Romano is the editor.  Read more Whiteboard articles here:

Elinor Slomba is the founder of E. Slomba Arts Interstices as well as a Whiteboard Community Startup Journalist. In addition to covering the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Connecticut, she has written for The Whiteboard on the Scrum and Agile approaches to collaboration and project management. As a consultant and curator, one of her main concerns is bridging the worlds of art and business, helping artists be more entrepreneurial and businesses more artistic. The exhibition she recently curated, Navigate Complexity, is currently on view at The GroveThe work pictured above, from the exhibition, is “Nebulae #1,” by Jennifer Davies (handmade paper, string, 17” square).

13-007 Jennifer Davies

Monday evening, an exhibition I curated opened at the The Grove in New Haven, showcasing the work of 17 Connecticut-based artist-entrepreneurs and one timely business topic: Navigating Complexity.

The opening reception drew approximately 50 people from the arts and startup worlds, resulting in sales inquiries as well as rich conversation and invitations to participate in future shows.

The exhibition’s theme deliberately addresses a current obsession among the business world’s top-tier thought leaders. Indeed, this year’s Drucker Forum, which just concluded in Vienna, convened under the banner “Managing Complexity.”

The business world is finally catching on to what artists know every time they go into the studio. It isn’t viable to enter a change process with a well-defined plan and expect to follow it. Instead, creative leaders need to trust the emerging solution.

Startup Weekend New Haven Art

Judy Sirota Rosenthal’s “Unfinished Prayer” watches over a StartUp Weekend New Haven team burning the 9pm oil last weekend at The Grove.

As a curator and a connector of the arts and startup worlds, I hope to amplify the role that artists have to play as guideposts and model generators for what complexity theorist Esko Kilpi defines as “the science of uncertainty.”

I was introduced to Kilpi’s work this week by a publisher who was reading the introduction to the “Navigate Complexity” catalogue, a passage of which reads:

“Navigating complexity is all about patterns. Selectively reducing the data we absorb is an act of creative intention. The world has become a fiercely complex competition for headspace, so we must design criteria for engagement. The quality of the paths we find and the sense we make reflect not only trust in our relationships but also our orientation to uncertainty.”

In his 2012 essay titled “Complexity, Patterns, and Links,” Kilpi writes:

“Complexity refers to a pattern, a movement in time that is at the same time predictable and unpredictable, knowable and unknowable. Healthy, ordinary, everyday life is always complex, no matter what the situation is. There is absolutely no linearity in the world of human beings.”

13-007 Jennifer Davies

Jennifer Davies, Nebulae #2, handmade paper, string, 17” square

Helping people visualize new paradigms for organizational design is a service provided by visual artists like Jennifer Davies, whose “Nebulae” series graces the space where Independent Software works to help entrepreneurs build products and companies.

I see in Davies’s work the shift we are making from “the net” to “the mesh,” a concept put forward by author Lisa Gansky describing the way web-based businesses are advancing innovation through shareable goods. Says Gansky: “Every part is connected to every other part, and they move in tandem…. Mesh businesses are knotted to each other, and to the world, in myriad ways.”

Italian-born Giada Crispiels has installed ivy made from upcycled newspaper and magazine pages between the office of Big Bang, an industrial design firm, and a conference room. The effect adds organic energy and a touch of whimsy to the space.

Navigate Complexity may travel to other locations after February. A closing reception is planned for February 13th at The Grove.

As an artist who “paints in stone,”  Mark Krueger seeks to approach the cohesiveness found in nature, revealing clarity of geometric relationships among interconnected parts.  His chief concern is finding innovative ways to play with those relationships.  Krueger invites his collaborators  – area designers – to use onyx, marble, sandstone, and quartzite in dynamic ways to create order, surprise and delight in interior spaces.

Mark Krueger 17

“Stone has important things to tell us that have not yet been said.  It’s a much more versatile and expressive medium than people think.  I pay close attention to the technical properties as well as the aesthetic possibilities latent in the different kinds of stone, so I can help people unlock them and prepare to live with them.”

He boldly challenges the dichotomous categories of form versus function that keep many artists’ careers from progressing except on a one-sided track.  “Why can’t an artist’s work serve a dual function?  Why can’t it be both art and an armoire, art and an insert in a backsplash?” To suspend judgements about artistic purity can be liberating, in Krueger’s opinion.  “I feel happy knowing someone sees my artwork every day, that it is woven into their daily routines.  Art shouldn’t just be reserved for special occasions.”


Mark Krueger’s studio is in Wallingford, Connecticut, and New Haven County is his home base.  The market for his high-end customized stone installations extends to Long Island, Manhattan, Westchester, and Fairfield County, Connecticut, where people often take great pride in their aesthetic displays.  Important sources for his materials are Onyx Stone in Woodbridge, Ele Mar Stone Distributors in New Haven and New York Stone in West Haven, CT.  He has also created an alter ego, Armando Bertoli, who represents his work in Europe:

In a world of pre-fabricated options, where creating an interior is often simply an exercise in multiple choice, Krueger says: “Make yourself available to the end users.  Lift the limitations.  Show them something more is possible.”  He wants to give people the confidence to be creative, and the assurance that each of his stone installations is the first and only one of its kind.


Designers help provide continual feedback from customers and become true creative partners.  It is through the daunting work of listening between the lines for what people really want, what might surpass their expectations, prototyping, discussing and elaborating that Krueger stays inspired to inject artfulness into what has essentially remained a rather stagnantly commercial process over the decades.

Krueger’s installations are like murals, belying his roots as a painter.  The work is realized in two-and-a-half dimensions, highly customized and site-specific.  Subtle gradations in finish, from quite rough to a smooth polish, treat the light differently.  “Some day I’ll teach people how to do it. I’d love for other people to do it, but do it by hand.”


Another innovative tactic he uses to push stone beyond sculpture and mosaic is to bond thin slices of it to glass with clear epoxy resin.  The results can be used in place of what might commonly be a freestanding glass enclosure, such as a shower door, and backlit to produce dramatic ambient effects.

“Those who choose to collaborate with me have access to a whole new palette.”  Onyx is especially suited, Krueger finds, to use as part of unique light fixtures.  Bonding a thin layer of onyx to another stone produces light variation in the underlying stone’s color.  “Shading in this way, if we need another shade of green than one we find normally occurs, we simply make it.  We can literally create new colors of stone.”

Yet, a world of infinite choice is not actually the end goal in our age of extreme complexity and uncertainty.  Krueger provokes collaborators to wonder together, “how do we thoughtfully eliminate information to make life more manageable?”  Arriving at the proper level of abstraction by bringing the information embedded in a project through several stages of reduction is, in his opinion, one of the most important design questions to resolve.  The solution is different each time, speaking to the needs, constraints and reference points that inspire each set of circumstances in which he works.


Krueger hopes in the future to take collaboration to a new level with other artists.  He notes, “on a nice, big residential project, we can create internal surfaces that have future flexibility.  One of the big unexplored spaces in homes is the ceiling.  In Europe, ceilings are really designed and thought through.  Stateside, you still see mostly white space.”

In place of this blank canvas, Krueger wants to create a system of panels which could be periodically replaced as an interchangeable design element.  An end user could have seasonal sets of ceiling panels, for instance, with different color schemes, or wish to highlight a particular thematic or design element from a particular part of the world.  “The idea is, you don’t have to live with it forever, but you don’t have to start from scratch when you want a change.”

“I want collaborating with me to be a fun form of creative expression, not overwhelming.”  To that end, Krueger invites members of the design community to have him speak about the medium of stone and its untapped capacities.  Images of work in various stages plus actual stone samples make for sensory rich, interactive experiences.  Email for scheduling.  You may also see him present live at Pechakucha New Haven on Wednesday, November 13 at Bentara Restaurant.

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