Monday, March 18, 2019

Building bridges between Art and Science


Studying the sciences, I’ve often heard peers say, “I’m a scientist, I’m not really a creative type.” I’ve also heard this sentiment expressed in the reverse, as people claimed to be artistic, not scientific; creative, not critical; intuitive, not logical. 

More often than not, people classify themselves as either an artist or a scientist. This dichotomy is perpetuated in higher education, where science labs are located across campus from art studios, courses that span both disciplines are rare, and collaboration between faculties is limited.

As a student, I came by my love of the arts and sciences separately. Both disciplines excited me, both piqued my interest in exploration and learning, but I could not see how to connect the two. It was in science communication that I found a natural intersection between my interests, a point where I could use creativity and design to share science in a fun and understandable way. And it was in science communication that I learned we need to build bridges across the divide that exists between the disciplines of art and science. 

This is where the SciArt Exhibition comes in.

Innovation and exploration flourish when we look at ideas from a different point of view, and that is why the LU SciArt Exhibition challenges students, artists, and researchers alike to look at their work from a new perspective. Local students have used sculptures, paintings, or interpretive dance to enhance their understanding of their science curriculum. Researchers and faculty at Laurentian have reimagined their ideas in quilts, sketches, and a variety of artistic media. Community artists have used their chosen medium to visualize challenging scientific concepts in unique and beautiful ways.

For the past 5 years, the LU SciArt Exhibition has featured as a part of Laurentian University’s Research Week. This year, I have had the privilege of working with students, researchers, and community artists to bring the 6thannual LU SciArt Exhibition to life.

I’ve spoken to artists about the challenges of bringing themes of science into their work, and the many opportunities it brings. I’ve seen the work of artists who use nature to inspire their pieces. I’ve listened to researchers explain how they turn their data into poetry, or quilts, or sculpture, to reshape their understanding and visualize their research.

I’ve sat down with high-school students who felt they didn’t have an artistic bone in their body, and together we’ve dreamed up sketches and sculptures that beautifully illustrate the threats we face from climate change. I’ve worked with a memorable group of Grade 4’s, who taught me a thing or two about coding as they brainstormed their project that intersects sculpture and robotics. 

Through all of this, I’ve learned that the divide between science and art is not so insurmountable as I once thought. When people are challenged to think about these disciplines together, rather than as two separate fields, they naturally begin to amalgamate and new ideas flourish. 

Maybe you’re like me, and you’ve struggled to find a connection between your twin passions for the arts and sciences. Maybe you’re a science enthusiast struggling to visualize your concept of interest, or you’re an artist looking for new themes to represent in your work. I challenge you to rethink the separation of art and science. Consider a new perspective, and explore new angles.

You may just create an innovative piece of SciArt.

- Kyelle Byne, SCOM 2019

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The SciArt Exhibition takes place on Wednesday, March 20thas a part of Laurentian University’s Research Week 2019, before moving to Science North where it will be on display from March 25thto April 5th. There will be a special Gala evening to celebrate science, art, and SciArt poetry at Science North on April 2ndat 7pm. The exhibition is free to attend, and all are welcome!