Our keynote — Magic of art and science
We are thrilled to have Carey Bagdassarian and Elizabeth Mead of The College of William and Mary as keynote speakers for our Planning Meeting this summer. (REGISTER NOW!) They have been co-teaching an art and science class called “Emergent Dialogues: The Intersection of Art and Science.” The course explores complex systems, the way a whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Students create artworks inspired by the concepts of complex systems dynamics and emergent processes in nature. In their sculptures, their process of working becomes as important as the finished work.
Carey Bagdassarian teaches in the Chemistry Department at The College of William and Mary. His scientific work is in the field of complex systems dynamics. His recent writings have appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, Hippocampus Magazine, Conservation Biology, and in Leonardo Electronic Almanac. He was a writer-in-residence at Andrews Forest with the Spring Creek Project.
Elizabeth Mead teaches in the Department of Art and Art History at The College of William and Mary. Her sculpture and drawings have been exhibited across the U.S. as well as in Iceland, Italy, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Portugal, Australia, and England. She has been a visiting artist and artist-in-residence at numerous distinguished institutions across the U.S., in Great Britain and in Japan.
Bagdassarian and Mead will share their collaborative work specifically, their experiences dealing with students in the art-science collaboration process, “and then we talk of MAGIC!”
We have a home! The Symbiosis Art+Science Alliance (SymbASA) now has a loft in the arty little town of Marshall, NC. Marshall is a tiny hamlet just north of Asheville, NC, with art studios in an old school on an island in the middle of the French Broad River, and lots of music, dance, art and creativity.
Our loft on Main Street will be home to art+science salons, creativity workshops for art+science, film screenings, music and dance performance, lodging and retreats for artists, scientists, educators and other creative workers, and other cool stuff. Marhsall is perfectly located for SymbASA to weave connections between our arts and science institutions in the southern Appalachian region.
We’ll be moving in this month… watch for more details as our little organization grows like a fungus and sends out its mycelial threads….
Last week I was visiting my friend, the creative, energetic, visionary Ellen Kochansky, director of the Rensing Center. Rensing supports artists, entrepreneurs, activists, and other visionary thinkers and doers in three arenas: Ecology, Economy, and Creativity. While riffing with Ellen on some ideas about art and science collaborations, I had a revelation. Just over the mountains from Rensing Center is the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, a fabulous and little-known institution for astronomy research and education. Ellen was unaware of their existence, and my wager is, PARI is unaware of the existence of Rensing. It occurred to me that this Art-Science Center we are dreaming up must begin with an ALLIANCE. Before we find a home for our center, we must first stitch together our region’s artists and arts organizations, scientists and science organizations, educators, lifelong learners and others who might share our vision of art and science.
In addition to Ellen Kochansky of Rensing Center, initial supporters of Symbiosis Art+Science Alliance include Liz Baird and Roy Campbell of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Cynthia Pannucci of Art-Science Collaborations, Inc (ASCI), Rieko Yajima of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), David Lynn, Nicole Gerardo and Berry Brosi of Emory University, Jim Costa of Highlands Biological Station, Carey Bagdassarian of William and Mary College, Lisa Alembik of Agnes Scott College’s Dalton Gallery, Adam and Ariel Fristoe of Out of Hand Theater in Atlanta, Marc Merlin of Atlanta Science Tavern, Ben Roy of UT Chattanooga and The Science Zone, Emily Yewell Violin, dancer and dance educator in Atlanta, Mary Early, Gallery Director of Hemphill Fine Arts in Washington, DC, and Ron McCandless of Innovate Our World, an organization to promote STEAM in education.
Add your name to this list!
Putting together an art-science alliance is an idea with a lot of support… but why are we focusing this particular effort in the Southern Appalachians? Partly because it’s a region with a tremendous amount of biological diversity. But also it’s a region with a long tradition of MAKING. There are so many artists and craftspeople in the region who MAKE: bodies move, music, objects, images, connections, a mess, new spaces, surprises, things that weren’t there before.. and renew, reshape, synthesize and upcycle things that were… It is a region with a rich history of hands-on, embodied, unapologetically sensory exploration of the world.
It’s not just the made things, but the making, that we are interested in promoting. Artists and scientists both look at the world with curiosity, a willingness to explore, moved by a vision, a question, a wandering, a sense of mischief, an urge to tell the truth. Along the way, artists and scientists both make new tools and techniques, and often make new alliances. We invite artists and scientists to reach farther with their alliances, to reach across the false art-science divide and collaborate — literally, to “work with” — each other to make novel connections.
Our vision is that the result of all this making is that we point to the wonders in our region, noticing how rich we truly are. Rich in species, rich in stories, rich in new adventures. Our art+science alliance will be an invitation to explore this richness. I can’t wait to see what we MAKE of all this!