Blending Art & Science

As my first year in CUNY's Animal Behavior and Comparative Psych program comes to an end, there is appreciable items for reflection.  Pursuing a career of research by means of graduate school has been my goal since late 2003 after an enriching semester in Boston University' Tropical Ecology Program which opened my eyes to the joys of a life as a field ecologist. The stories of my first (exciting and somewhat perilous) birdwatching experiences in the Amazon shall be saved for another post--it's what came in the years between 2003 and the present that is my focus today.

 A view of Yosemite Valley

A view of Yosemite Valley

Prior to starting my PhD work I lived in Providence, RI and worked at two educational non-profits, one focusing on after school STEM education, and the other on after school arts education. Oftentimes, at the separate programs, STEM and Art would fuse together and produce some especially wonderful works. For example, during my last weeks at the inimitable New Urban Arts, prior to moving to NYC, I helped one student construct a massive cardboard replica of a redwood tree which served as a poetry reading nook (rest assured I'll amend this post if I can find photo evidence!). 

 The European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), introduced to Central Park, NYC in 1890/1891

The European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), introduced to Central Park, NYC in 1890/1891

All the STEAM work seeped into my own science education practice, and encouraged me to try interpreting my interests through art.  Providence proved an easy place to build skills for this task since it's home to a multitude  of friendly creative folks, and places like AS220 (where I learned printmaking) and Craftland (where I learned embroidery).  Since these initial forays into art-making, it has been an essential counterpart to my academic pursuits. I usually pick a theory/location/ecological system that I've been reading a wealth of recent research on, and create an embroidery detailing an aspect that I've decided needs further contemplation.  A combination of the meditative stitching techniques and sheer time it takes to complete an embroidery is quite beneficial in helping me make connections and clarify key concepts that I puzzled over when starting the project.  

Recently, as an extension of my New York City scientific and artistic endeavors, I joined the SciArt Center of NYC. They put together gallery shows and community events that focus on bringing together people at the nexus of Art & Science. I look forward to contributing to this group, and learning from others as I continue to develop my academic and artistic practices.