Wait. Similarities between art and science? Aren’t they essentially polar opposites?
That’s what common logic seems to dictate and would have you believe. But the truth is, art and science are much more closely aligned than you might think.
Students at an arts academy high school with an arts integration curriculum can verify this.
At the most basic level, both artists and scientists strive to see the world in new ways, comprehend what they’re seeing, and then communicate that vision.
This is what drives them.
The Human Need to Understand
It’s probably accurate to say that the vast majority of humans crave understanding and predictability. Regardless of how much you may think you like to live on the edge and go with the flow, complete unpredictability is a stressor.
Artists and scientists alike are equally motivated by this need to understand and bring some order to the chaos of the world. Of course, each has unique subjects and methods that hail from different traditions. And they’re each addressing different audiences.
Both need to invent new concepts and technologies to accomplish their goals though.
Scientists do this through repeated experiments in an attempt to reveal some novel aspect of reality. When they arrive at their new understanding, they utilize traditional modes of communication to share their findings.
By contrast, artists often start with the new vision. Yet from that foundation, they also work through exploration and experimentation to determine the best way to deliver their message. It may be through having a show at a gallery and/or seeking feedback from viewers.
So while they may appear different, artists and scientists approach problems with open-mindedness and inquisitiveness. Neither fears the unknown. And both prefer to leap rather than take small steps.
These overlaps not only shed light on the similarities between art and science, but they foster successful partnerships between the two disciplines.
In other words, when artists and scientists collaborate from the offset, the outcomes are often far more valuable than if they’d worked separately. This is precisely why arts integration educators are stressing the importance of the arts being included as an integral part of the STEM movement.
Turning STEM into STEAM
Once upon a time, art and science were not in seeming opposition to one another. You didn’t have to be EITHER science-minded or artistically inclined. You could be both.
Consider Leonardo da Vinci, for example. A true “renaissance man”, he was a painter, sculptor, architect, and engineer. He used his stellar intellect, highly attuned powers of observation, and his mastery of drawing in his dual pursuits of art and science.
He flourished in both. Of course, science wasn’t nearly as sophisticated then as it is now.
But current practices show that scientific research has much to gain by involving artists in the process. Artists can approach questions from a different angle. They can assist in rethinking or redesigning systems from the ground up.
This further cements the importance of arts integration in K-12 education. For students in purely STEM subjects, there is a risk that creativity will fall away in the sometimes blind pursuit of pure innovation.
But by bringing art into the fold (STEAM), an emphasis on creativity provides both artists and scientists with new and vital discoveries. Without these discoveries, each fails to thrive.
The ability to understand and to communicate must be present. Scientists who can communicate but have nothing new to say will not be taken any more seriously than artists with exciting new views of the world who cannot communicate them effectively.
They need one another.
The Bare Bones Similarities Between Art and Science
Art and science are both expressions of what it is to be human. Each one is driven by discovery, curiosity, and a profound longing to know oneself and the surrounding world.
The expressions may look very different though.
Scientists embark on the journey armed with research, equations, and experimentation laid out in a neat and tidy linear fashion. Artists are driven by a much less linear and messier exploration of ego, culture, and contradictions.
While artists battle with trying to communicate their vision, scientists often struggle with gaining new insights in the first place. They both work hard though to learn the principles and attain the skills to be successful.
There are useful applications that come from both science and art as well. For example, technology is applied science. Decoration is applied art. Both are entirely practical and make life easier. But they don’t change how we perceive the world around us.
Science and art, on the other hand, do.
And that’s it in a nutshell. Art and science are both human attempts to comprehend and then explain the world around us. When done successfully and in tandem, they can cause us to see the world in a different light.
And even more importantly, they can change our fundamental truths.
Interested in an Arts Integrated Education for Your Child?
At Arts Academy in the Woods in Fraser, MI, we incorporate an arts-integrated curriculum for our students that fosters creativity while offering a solid education in required academics.
It’s the definition of a fully rounded education.