The importance of art, according to a science student.

Photo by Willa Holmwood
Photo by Willa Holmwood

From musician to drama teacher to artist, my family is rich with artsy-fartsy types. Although I developed a love for these fields, right after high school I plunged into the deep and intimidating ocean that became my science degree. My hopes were to pursue a future in medicine with science driving my evolution to success. Plagued with calculus differentials, statistical coding, and organic chemistry (where yes, the class average for the first exam was literally 36%), I thought I had denied myself the opportunity to explore my artistic and creative right-brain through higher education. But fear not – a child raised by such an eclectic mix of art-appreciators was able to sneak in electives spanning History, Anthropology, English, Sociology, and Philosophy. Although it came with the cost of an entire extra year for my undergraduate degree, I am beyond grateful for how the arts and humanities have complimented my science degree.

But why do the arts even matter? Science is sexy, Einstein has swag, objectivity is truth. According to my heavy-eyed caffeine driven scientific opinion, I would argue that arts and science exist in a yin yang equilibrium. Without science, there is no quantifiable understanding of our existence on Earth – and that is incredibly disheartening. However, excluding arts from the picture leaves the world as a joyless hunk of rock that is swirling in space without any meaning.

Photo by Willa Holmwood
Photo by Willa Holmwood

Art allows us to experience the world through an accessible and pleasurable lens. For example, music is often described as the “universal language” due to its ability to connect people across cultures, despite social barriers. Theatre cultivates an environment of expression where stories and knowledge are shared to an audience. Art itself is a way to visualize the relic of time by comprehending the very emotions that we value so deeply. In short, the arts provide colour to an otherwise grey world. Science without the complement of art lacks purpose and application.

In a world that values specialization, where tunnel vision is required for instant success, I challenge students to slow down and colour their world with a balance of science and art. Both disciplines offer a uniquely beautiful way of experiencing life. Each contribute their own benefits and challenges. I am beyond grateful that I made time to supplement my science degree with courses in the arts and humanities. Being raised and taught by those who understand the value of both has been absolutely humbling. Besides appealing to ancient Chinese philosophy, the yin yang symbol represents so much more than a trendy pop-culture tattoo or a distantly vague concept. Brilliance thrives when art and science coexist.