In todays society, which reveres science, technology and mathematics, the connection between art and science can sometimes be overlooked. Yet the connections can be traced back at least as far as the late 15th and early 16th centuries, when Leonardo da Vinci was painting the Mona Lisa, studying the human skeleton and inventing hydraulic pumps and reversible crank mechanisms, and even further, into ancient civilizations.
By JACQUELINE CHANDA
Special to The Star
In Kansas City, a place to rediscover the connection between art and science is the Linda Hall Library, where through Sept. 14 an exhibition of lithographs will be on view in Crayon on Stone: Science Embraces the Lithograph, 1800-1899. Original lithography prints by 20 art institute printmaking students are included in the exhibition, along with scientific lithography prints and rare books from the librarys collection.
Our students were asked to examine the historical theme of the exhibition and respond with their own contemporary points of view in conversation with ideas encompassing science, nature, travel, technology, documentation, landscape, journaling, maps, architecture, diagrams and more. The exhibition is the first intersection of its kind between the Linda Hall Library and our college.
Really, though, it should come as no wonder that art and science are related. Both involve discovery, risk-taking and problem-solving.
John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design and a former MIT professor, is in the vanguard of a movement to transform STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to STEAM by adding Art. I and many others in leadership roles in colleges of art and design across the United States concur with Maedas widely professed belief that art and design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century in the same way that science and technology did in the previous century.
STEM by itself is extremely powerful, Maeda recently told The Huffington Post. Its scale is amazing. But that alone doesnt create warmth and humanity and connection. A thing like an MP3 player is a STEM technology, but until Apple came along, it didnt become desirable. It was STEAM technology that made it a part of our everyday lives.
Lawrence Krauss, an internationally known theoretical physicist at Arizona State University, has said that art and science ask the same questions. At its best, science forces us to reassess our place in the cosmos. Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? Those are the very same questions that you get in art, literature and music, he said in 2011.
When I joined the Kansas City Art Institute as president almost two years ago, I asked our community of faculty, staff and students, What if we could? What if we could create an art product that could be patented? I asked. What if we could become agents of change and use art as a life-changing experience, to uplift and transform? I challenged my new colleagues here in Kansas City to pursue innovative deeds for engagement and excellence, a charge whose acronym is IDEE, the French word for idea.
Our collaboration with Linda Hall Library is an example of this concept at its best. I thank the library for providing the art institute with this opportunity, and I look forward with eager anticipation to additional collaborations and partnerships with institutions of science, technology, engineering and mathematics as together we turn STEM to STEAM.
Jacqueline Chanda, Ph.D., of Kansas City, is the president of the Kansas City Art Institute.