When Art and Science Collide
I was recently given the privilege to join some of our Southeast Asia employees and their children for a pilot run of an art program at the National Gallery Singapore. While Applied Materials constantly engages in community work as a corporation – from supporting sustainability to advocating for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) – this marks the first time the company has sponsored an arts program in Singapore.
The Art and Science of Artwork Conservation Program is one of a handful of custom educational programs developed in-house by the National Gallery Singapore to teach youth about art. The program is expected to reach out to 1,800 students over the course of the year.
For me, it was a good opportunity to show synergies and dependencies in two dichotomous fields. At the face of it, there does seem to be little commonality between the two – science is thought to be about precision and analytics while art rewards creativity and subjectivity. However, art and science actually share a close and enduring relationship.
In ancient Greece, the word for art was ‘techne,’ from which the words technique and technology are derived. Creativity and analytical skills are immensely complementary; some of the world’s most prolific scientists and inventors were also celebrated artists. For example, Leonardo da Vinci was a master artist and also an inventor in the fields of engineering, mathematics and geometry.
While scientific methods help hone critical, analytical and logical problem solving skills, teaching children about art is like teaching them about their heritage. Art is after all a remarkable reflection of our culture. But art isn’t just about appreciation, it’s about action. Art can channel intuition, creativity and learning agility like nothing else.
Science is changing the way we preserve our history, making conservation efforts possible in ways never before imagined. For example, material scientists are working hand in hand with museum specialists using nanoparticles and techniques like laser cleaning to restore frescoes and paintings.
The National Gallery’s art conservation program seeks to tap into this synergy to preserve art and our heritage. By giving children hands-on experience in such conservation efforts, we are exposing them to art and science, and molding both sets of faculties in the process. Hopefully this will inspire our children to embrace both art and science as tangible skills for the future to continue to push the boundaries of STEAM.