by Leslie Farin
As a child raised by a chemical engineer father and an artist mother, I was exposed in abundance to both the science and the art worlds. Many believe scientists are driven by data and artists by emotion, and therefore live very different lives. In reality, these two fields of knowledge are actually more alike than different, and even closely intertwined. Albert Einstein said, “The greatest scientists are also artists”. Both ask questions about how things work and why, and search deeply for answers. Both take risks and accept failures as learning experiences that eventually help lead to success. Without creativity, a scientist cannot think outside the box to develop theories, and without science, an artist cannot understand the science behind the art, which is particularly true in ceramics. The chemistry involved in kiln firing and mixing glazes greatly affects physical properties (i.e. color or surface character) of the final fired product. So what do I mean by “glaze”? The simplist explanation is to say any glass that covers a ceramic object can be called a glaze. More information about glaze chemistry in a future post for those interested– stay tuned!
My parent’s marriage worked, and worked well, despite their differences. They complimented each other nicely, sharing many interests. My four siblings and I received the benefits of this union in that we were strongly encouraged to explore both worlds as children. None of us, however, chose careers in the arts as young adults. I studied nutrition and public health, my two brothers went into engineering, one sister attended law school, and the other became a hospital social worker. Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Sad, but true. Public high schools, with their increasingly limited budgets, often do not make art a priority for the students. Additionally, many parents seem to hold math and science related coursework in much higher esteem than the arts – probably because of the expectation of a higher paycheck when out in the work world. I understand the logic, and obviously shared that opinion when choosing a profession as a young adult, but believe strongly at this point in my life that both are important.
I eventually left the health field to pursue a career in marketing and graphic art as I needed a job where I was able to combine my artistic abilities with my technical interests. I still work as a marketing consultant for a variety of interesting clients, which I greatly enjoy. However, I needed more. It seems I have an irresistible urge to create, and am happiest when doing so. Clay is the perfect medium for me in that a ceramic artist must be able to combine imagination and creativity with the applicable technical information and chemistry required to advance in the field. How lucky I was to be blessed with parents who valued both science and art and strived to share their interests with their children.
Source for left brain – right brain image (top): www.grammarmindmaps.com