SYMBASA! WHAT? Arriving at the first SymbASA (Symbiosis Art and Science Alliance) meeting, which convened July 26-28, 2013, my Chiboogamoo (aka Tony Martin) and I were pleased at how well Warren Wilson College had provided signs to direct us around its campus. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for collaboration! Hallelujah for the minds and hearts of artists and scientists coming together to see what they can discover. Asking questions such as "How can science illuminate the arts?" or "How can the arts serve science?" or "When do science and art merge and become something altogether new and dynamic?"
On the last weekend of July 2013, Nance Lowe, founder and director of SymbASA, gathered together interested scientists, artists, and educators to discuss these questions on the campus of Warren Wilson College. This kind of dialogue across disciplines is riding the crest of an exciting new movement to address the EARTH's pressing problems such as climate change, habitat loss, decreasing natural resources, starvation and overpopulation, just to name a few.
Surely scientists and artists working together fusing their imaginations is a productive approach to address these troubling issues and to create a new way of living and understanding of the world in the 21st Century. How can we all think differently, playfully, and intellectually, trying on new lenses and seeing through alternative filters?
Beginning a morning of presentations, Nancy Lowe welcomed us and enfolded our day in the 4-C's: COURAGE, CREATIVITY, CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS, AND CURIOSITY! What follows is a brief description of who spoke and what was said:
|AMY BOYD, BIOLOGY and ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES PROFESSOR. Amy was one of two Warren Wilson College faculty members who welcomed SymbASA attendees by giving short talks about the way she has integrated art and science in her courses.(photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)|
|BETTE BATES, ARTIST. Bette shared her student's artwork from the classes she teaches at Warren Wilson College. The images were directly inspired from nature. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)|
|SYMBASA AUDIENCE. Paused momentarily because of technical difficulties, I took a photo of early morning SymbASA attendees.(photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)|
|KEYNOTE SPEAKERS--CAREY BAGDASSARIAN, , and ELIZABETH MEAD, ARTIST. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)|
Taking joyful turns speaking, it was clear that the theoretical chemist and sculptor had developed a well-oiled avenue of communication through their science-art collaborations. But as Elizabeth explained, it was not without breakdowns and redefining words like "systems" and "structures." Their students, who benefit from these discussions, attend class in Elizabeth's art studio near a river. Carey and Elizabeth encourage them to be present and engaged by following a no-talking policy and sending them out in canoes "In Search of Small Gods (Jim Harrison)."
Imagine what students discover about themselves by designing and implementing this course's project, "measure something in nature." One mesmerizing slide showed how a student of theirs had decided to measure leaf fall in the forest by establishing a bed of moss to catch the falling leaves.
Because Carey and Elizabeth's art-science collaboration, they have succeeded in giving their students a fuller world view and helped them to see how profound nature really is.
|ABOARD SPACESHIP EARTH--MARK HANF (MATHEMATICIAN, EDUCATOR, BUSINESSMAN) and GARIUS HILL (MUSICIAN, FILMOGRAPHER, BUSINESSMAN). (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)|
|RUTH SCHOWALTER, ARTIST, BLOGGER, CITIZEN SCIENTIST and TONY MARTIN, ICHNOLOGIST, ARTIST, and WRITER. Tony and I co-presented on our collaborative artwork and Paleontologist Barbie interviews. (photo by Cherilynn Morrow)|
In other words, Tony and I have been able in our marriage and through our collaborations to integrate our understanding of ideas in a holistic way. I have the privilege of being with Tony when he is collecting primary data and sifting through it for understanding. He, in turn, has the benefit of my questioning and insights from an artistic perspective. We are both made more "whole" through this life of collaboration we lead. I will write more about our collaboration in a future blog.
|CARRIE LEWIS, MATH EDUCATOR. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)|
As the afternoon progressed, we continued sharing information about symbiotic relationships of art and science informally.
|FLOCKING AT SYMBASA. Our group watched this group flock so that we could observe how individual members would gradually begin to be able to synchronize their movements. There is a magic to this exercise. I loved hearing Nancy Lowe exclaim surprise as she documented these flocking exercises on video! See Nancy's blog post about flocking. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)|
|SYMBASA BREAK. During the weekend, Nancy Lowe was sure to leave time for hikes around the Warren Wilson College campus. This photo shows the barns down by the vegetable and flower gardens. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)|
|CHERILYNN MORROW, ASTROPHYSICIST and MUSICIAN. Gathering and chatting allows time to share information. Here Cherilynn is looking at Tony Martin's book, Life Traces of the Georgia Coast. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)|
I also wish to express gratitude to the participants and presenters at the conference, especially my husband and fellow collaborator Tony Martin. And, thanks to everyone at Warren Wilson College who made our stay on the campus comfortable! Finally, thank you Peter Trusler, both talented artist and scientist for providing so much inspiration through your work and friendship although it be at such a great distance.To see how Peter weds art and science, see this video:
That's Coffee with Hallelujah! Soul Blog with me and tell me what you are thinking now about the symbiosis of art and science!