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Taylor Zakarin

Pamela Nelson and Robert A. Wilson
Color Equations, 2007
Aluminum with vinyl
48 x 48 inches
21 equations total

On every single tour I’ve given of the art collection at NorthPark Center, there is one question that without a doubt gets asked: “what are the colored squares?”

I’m sure many of you have wondered the same – is it a work of art, is it related to a store…what are they? Color Equations is an art installation. That is the short answer. The long answer is that Color Equations was initially meant to be a temporary installation when NorthPark opened its 2006 expansion. However, visitors have loved the work so much, it has become a permanent part of the art collection at NorthPark. Because the piece expands past the general parameters of how one might view or understand a work of art (perhaps you consider a work of art to be one sculpture on a base or one painting/print in a frame), many are confused about the nature of Color Equations. The work, of course, extends down our halls, surprising you around each corner. Artist Pamela Nelson collaborated with Robert A. Wilson, a well-known figure in public broadcasting in Dallas, to create this site-specific installation. The two used vinyl-covered aluminum squares to demonstrate how different hues can be achieved when various colors are combined. This installation offers visitors to NorthPark a lesson in color theory, or the practical guidance to color mixing.

Perhaps the most well known artist to teach color theory at an extensive level was Josef Albers. In many ways, this installation by Nelson and Wilson is an ode to Albers, who not only taught color theory at the short-lived but highly-influential experimental art program at Black Mountain College, but also employed the square format in his own work, painting countless square canvases in a wide spectrum of colors in a series he titled Homage to the Square. The work has been particularly attractive to our student groups over the last couple of months – many of the elementary scholars are just learning color theory, and they have had a blast seeing what they have learned in the classroom displayed across our walls in a large format.

When Pamela Nelson and Robert Wilson created this work, they published a small number of books that display the color equations along with a few quotes about the power of color, which I have included below. Enjoy!


“All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites”
 W.H. Auden

“Yellow is capable of charming god”
Vincent van Gogh

“Red is the color of magic in every country and has been from the earliest times”
William Butler Yeats

“Long live the sun which gives us such color”
Paul Cezanne

“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those that love color the most”
John Ruskin

“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts”
Marcus Aurelius

“The whole world, as we experience it visually, comes to us through the mystic realm of color”
Hans Hofmann

“The color of truth is gray”
Andre Gide