Adding science to art — through play: MICA artist Jenna Frye - Baltimore


Dec. 17, 2014 8:58 am

Adding science to art — through play: MICA artist Jenna Frye

Frye's work, a puzzle game called GIRIH, was on display at an opening reception last week in Philadelphia.

A puzzle from GIRIH, Jenna Frye's game series.

(Image courtesy of Jenna Frye)

A Baltimore artist has turned Persian patterns into a game.

Maryland Institute College of Art instructor Jenna Frye just took part in an exhibit at The Hacktory in Philadelphia, and GIRIH was one of her projects on display.

Some of the game’s patterns. (Courtesy of Jenna Frye)

Frye was a fellow in the Hacktory’s Unknown Territory program spending the last month in Philadelphia with artists in the six-month program there. Her work and others will be on display through Dec. 20 at the Crane Arts building (1400 N. American St.).

Frye, who’s on a yearlong sabbatical from MICA, said she is fascinated by the intersection of art and science and how to use science and games to enhance art.

“I’m trying to figure out how to bring a little bit of science and technology to the art school experience but through play,” she said. “I’m just wondering how we can convince adults to have that same curiosity. That’s what I love about makerspaces and that kind of movement.”

Frye led a team of three artists in creating GIRIH (Persian for “knot,” by the way), downloads of which are available on her website.

“If you thought of Islamic art in your head right now, you’d think of geometric patterns,” she said. “They’re incredibly complicated and they’re visually stunning.”

Players earn points by correctly arranging the tiles, and the player with the most points wins.

“It’s been really great to play test it and see that all kinds of people are interested in it and trying to find the pattern solutions,” she said.


Roughly 450 people were at the reception last week in Philadelphia, Frye said. Spending the month among people from other disciplines, like designers and writers, was a big boost for her research.

“It completely restarted my process. It wasn’t all art. It wasn’t all anything all the time,” she said. Those in the fellowship were “working together on obscure things of interests, so that felt so right to me.”

A GIRIH puzzle in action. (Via

A GIRIH puzzle in action. (Via

Tyler Waldman

Tyler Waldman is a contributor for Baltimore. A Towson University graduate and former local editor for, Tyler has also written and photographed for publications including the Baltimore Brew, Howard County Times and Towson Times. He lives in Charles Village.

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