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Ingrid Daubechies describes the Stephanie Magdziak's process of making the Emmy Noether plaquette. This lecture was part of a public event at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, "Celebrating Emmy Noether".


When sculpting a portrait, I learn about the character of my subject, and keep that presence with me while working. Emmy has been great company, stepping wittily past obstructions and prejudice against her gender to discover, invent, and share with fellow thinkers and students. I am honored to have spent time with her and to commemorate her brilliance.

When Ingrid first invited me to sculpt Emmy's portrait, we searched for suitable photographs. I was daunted when we found very few clear pictures, and I saw that some studio portraits re-structured and idealized her features. I realized then that my assemblage of photos invited me to imagine and construct a warm, lively, outdoorsy Emmy, whose theorems could rise to the heavens.

I found my way through the puzzle of representing Emmy Noether with help from: Hillary Clinton's, my husband's and Pope John XXIII's jowls; Manzu's portraits, Ghiberti's Baptistry doors, Saint Gaudens' bas-reliefs, Scarpa's glass, Zorn's etchings, Monet's Waterlilies, the portraits of Desiderio da Settignano and Benedetto da Maiano, and my husband - artists whose help I sought, and others who visited spontaneously.