From Our Soundbooth | September 18, 2019

This week, we are delighted to share with you our Miller Prize-winning project in the Audio Documentary cateogry: “How to Make an American Pi Quilt” by Stephen Ornes.”  The Miller Audio Prize is open to artists composing in the genres of Prose, Audio Documentary, Humor and Poetry. Ornes’s project was selected as the Audio Documentary winner by 2019 Miller Audio Prize Guest Judge Cher Vincent.

About his project, Ornes writes:
Unexpectedly beautiful stories and ideas bloom at the intersection of mathematics, art, and culture. In March, I launched Calculated, a podcast collection of stories about people who work and live and create at this nexus. One of the most compelling is John Sims, a mathematical and political artist in Sarasota, Florida, whose quilts are at the heart of “How to Make an American Pi Quilt.” John sees pi – everyone’s favorite irrational number – as a source of beauty and inspiration. I wanted to show how his passion and creativity led to meaningful connections across disciplines and cultures. I know many people revile math, or have nightmares about algebra, but stories like John’s show how this field, the language of nature, what’s been called the “Queen of the Sciences,” is also deeply aesthetic.

Listen to “How to Make an American Pi Quilt” below:

Stephen Ornes writes in a backyard shed in Nashville, Tennessee. His award-winning work has appeared in Discover, Scientific American, Cancer Today, Science News for Students, and other magazines, and he teaches a class on science communication at Vanderbilt University. One Story, Vestal Review, The Portland Review, and other journals have published his short fiction, and his book Math Art: Truth, Beauty, and Equations, was published in April. Visit him online at