Mary Pal Designs

Element of Surprise - Part 2 (The Concept)

The Concept

The Portrait

With an element named Einsteinium, and my proclivity for portraiture, the subject was obvious.

As it happens, I  had previously received permission from the estate of Yousuf Karsh, world-renowned Canadian portrait photographer, to use his portrait of Albert Einstein in my work, and this was an appropriate time to use it. 

As well, with his hands clasped in a prayerful pose, it seemed opportune to use this image to express something about his earnest hope for a better world.

Photo used with permission of Yousuf Karsh estate

Photo used with permission of Yousuf Karsh estate

The Element

Photo from Wikipedia article on Einsteinium

Photo from Wikipedia article on Einsteinium

What do we know about this element? And how can I use this information in its depiction? My research yielded this information:

Einsteinium is a synthetic element with the symbol Es and atomic number 99.  It was named to honor Albert Einstein.

Einsteinium was discovered by a team of scientists led by Albert Ghiorso in 1952 while studying the radioactive debris produced by the detonation of the first hydrogen bomb. The isotope they discovered, einsteinium-253, has a half-life of about 20 days.

Einsteinium is a synthetic, silvery-white, radioactive metal. The self-damage induced by the radioactivity of einsteinium is so strong that it rapidly self-destructs and the energy release during this process induces a visible glow.

Since only small amounts have ever been produced, it currently has no uses outside of basic scientific research.

The Theme

 With Einstein's views on world peace and his distaste for war, I discovered no shortage of appropriate quotes from this brilliant man.  One I considered: The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." In the end, the quote I decided on was a perfect expression of the dangers inherent in the use of hydrogen bombs (where einsteinium is created) to resolve disputes.

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought

But World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones

All that remained was to combine these elements in a composition that would incorporate all of them. A few sketches later, the plan was complete and ready for execution. The next step would be the selection of materials and the construction of the finished piece.  More on that in my next post!