What Happens When a Scientist Thinks Like an Artist

As a biology student, I have become accustomed to my like-minded peers and mentors. We focus on problem solving, beginning with seemingly minute details and expanding to the big picture, and we often take an interdisciplinary approach to the application of our studies. Our goal is ultimately to find solutions to problems such as malfunctioning protein synthesis or disrupted DNA repair mechanisms and prove those solutions several times over to be valid and do so with sufficient evidence.

Also as a biology student, I am required to take a course in the fine arts. I decided to take an independent study art course by the name of Art and Athletics. The professor, Ronald B. Johnson, is a former baseball player and current artist that stresses the importance of both art and athletics in all fields, including the sciences. Athletes in the course are challenged to create before performing, and artists are challenged to generate and create according to a strict and strategic schedule, much like scientists are forced to do.

After our first round of critiques, I learned that our way of thinking in the STEM fields is not the only way to do so. In this class, when an artist explains his or her piece, there is no bigger picture that involves application to all individuals; sometimes there is no reason behind a piece of work at all. It just is. I found myself unintentionally fabricating rationales as to why they decided to paint and what that painting meant. As scientists, we have been conditioned to ask ourselves what and explain why; a yes or no has never been sufficient until I entered this class. 

Grades in this class are defined by creativity, which is still quite difficult for me to fully comprehend.

Professor Johnson constantly reminds us, “It doesn’t matter if you are good or bad. It just matters that you are creative.”

I believe this means, “If you have ideas, execution of those ideas can only be properly carried out by the one to whom they belong; if you feel it is right it is so, and if you feel otherwise, it is otherwise." It just is or it just is not.

I do not yet fully understand the artistic mind. Currently, I am searching for my creative outlet but am now debating its existence. I think it is possible that each individual is him or herself the outlet, and he or she chooses to or to not explore his or her own creative capacity.

Slowly, I have began to let the work of others just be, but can’t do the same for mine. To me, it must make sense to everyone, or it makes little sense to anyone.

Image Credits: 1, 2