STEAM POWER: Art and STEM as a vehicle for change

Articles By Francesca Bernardi, Alison Marklein & Anila Yadavalli

The combination of science, technology, engineering, art, and math — it fills the imagination, brings ideas to life, and makes us feel. Ask most scientists and they will tell you about their passion for research, the inspiration and excitement of discovery. Science and art are two sides of the same coin, and art can harness the power of emotion to elicit curiosity, discovery, and connection to science. Artists regularly tap into science to bring important societal issues like climate change to light and scientists integrate the creative process and art into their work. Collaborations among scientists and artists can reach new audiences, bring forth new ideas, and change the way we think about both science and art. Here are some of the amazing projects that have been inspiring us with their love for science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

San Jose Museum of Quilts + Textiles:
The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles recently held a solo exhibition called The Forgotten Women of Science by the Iranian-American artist Pantea Karimi. The exhibition featured women scientists from the second to nineteenth century and highlighted their contributions to science. The collection drew on the artistic and scientific talents of these women and included installations of embroidered hoops with laboratory notebook drawings, vials of medieval medicinal recipes, and panels with the accomplishments of several women scientists in both text and image. On February 23, 2020, the museum and the County of Santa Clara Office of Women’s Policy co-presented a panel discussion, Women Scientists: Vision & Visibility, with the artist (Pantea Karimi), a science historian (Cassy Christianson), and a scientist (Dr. Suzanne Pierre), who discussed parallels between historical and current status of women in science. Even today, the loudest voices are rarely representative of the scientific community or the broader communities science serves and women continue to be underrepresented. Exhibits like The Forgotten Women of Science at The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles are using creativity to amplify marginalized voices and pushing for science to be truly representative.

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