Combining Art and Science Makes Sense

Combining Art and Science Makes Sense

Most people think of science and art as opposites, but College of Charleston students disagree after working on a collaboration called ART MATTERS. Six students were selected to create artistic interpretations of current research by science and math professors. Their works will be on display in the Academic Advising and Planning Center on the second floor of the Lightsey Center starting on Friday, November 22, 2013.

“Science and art really aren’t that different,” explains junior Grace Musser, a double major in studio art and anthropology. “I actually see similarities in the precise methodology, rigorous critical thinking, and incessant curiosity required to succeed in each field.”

Senior Susanna Brylawski, a double major in studio art and physics, agrees saying both require a sense of space, being attached to the physical world, and the desire to know how things work.

The project, envisioned by the Academic Advising and Planning Center, illustrates the Center’s mission to help students make connections and develop new ideas about the possibilities for their education. It is a special feature of the Center’s annual ART MATTERS Student Art Exhibition, which includes works by students of all majors.

The Challenge

Each student was paired with a professor from the School of Sciences and Mathematics and challenged to understand the professor’s research and then create a visual representation.

Brylawski said she was immediately drawn to the math research.

[Related: Learn about Alex Kasman’s research.]

“My uncle was a math professor who dabbled in art, I think that is where my passion for both fields came from. I’ve always been curious about math research and this gave me the opportunity to get to know Dr. Alex Kasman. This connection may open the door to looking more closely at combinatorics, which is the math my uncle did.”

Musser was paired with Biology Professor Andrew Clark, and depicted his research on the biomechanics of the hagfish.

“I chose to portray his research through an oil painting surrounded by collaged notes and images from his publications,” Musser explains. “I chose oil paint because it is my primary medium, and I started with a detailed underpainting before adding a layer of color. My oil painting technique is meticulous and I think that this relates to Dr. Clark’s research as his scientific methods are also very precise.”

[Related: Learn more about Andrew Clark’s research.]

“It was hard,” says Brylawski. “I was tempted to take things so literally and put Dr. Kasman’s equation into a graphing program or show everything spatially correct. I feel like I’ve let go of that.”

What’s Next

The student art exhibition opens Friday, November 22, 2013 with a reception from 12-1:30 p.m. The exhibit will be free and open to the public on the second floor of the Lightsey Center.

In spring 2014, the Academic Advising and Planning Center will host a follow-up event in which the professors will give a mini-lecture about their research, and the student artists will give a short talk about their creative process.

Participants include:

Prof. Andrew Clark (biology) / Artist Grace Musser

Prof. Dave Boucher (chemistry) / Artist Roberto Jones

Prof. Paul Anderson (data science) / Artist Jonathan Rypkema

Prof. Leslie Sautter (geology) / Artist Nikki Scioscia

Prof. Alex Kasman (math) / Artist Susanna Brylawski

Prof. Linda Jones (physics) / Artist Eileen Szwast