For a long time, being an artist and a scientist felt like straddling two worlds. Not true. There are basic commonalities between the human condition, art, and science. Every day is an experiment. Every clean sheet of paper an experiment waiting — each line, each decision: an experiment. Everyone does experiments, complete with an hypothesis (expectations based on previous action and consequence) everyday. Works of art and science experiments are just two discreet kinds of many experiments, just two different outlets for curiosity testing consequence.
Now I think of art and science as two sides of a metal coin, about taking that iron and forging it into a magnet where the electromagnetic fields that no one can directly see is the individual. Aren’t we all accumulations of evidence? You can feel a someone’s force, see their actions, but not the whole or entirety of them. The human conundrum — all trains passing in the night, the repulsive forces in our electrons making sure we never touch.
Currently my work plays on relationships in space, using negative space and arrangement to highlight perception. On one hand I find this is an excellent experimental representation of the scientific process: cataloging, drawing relationships, finding pattern, organizing and documenting, working through data. On the other, I find this is an excellent mirror for relationships in life, each discrete shape standing in for a person, telling a story. This compared to that. The distance and arrangement pointing out the relationship between objects, like a narrative, the threads between thoughts.
But don’t take my word for it. Look for yourself. See for yourself.
Steph Nowotarski is an artist and scientist currently located in Kansas City, MO. Born and raised in Mertztown, PA, she had the excellent fortune to have at least one teacher every year whom fostered a love of learning in her K-12 years, and thus she wanted to do everything. She’s tried to do just that ever since.
While at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA, attempting a double major in Genetic Engineering and Studio Art, she was forced into a very rational decision based on resources: you can paint in your home, but you can’t afford (or even rent) a confocal microscope. After her BS, she moved to North Carolina to continue her science work in Mark Peifer’s lab, fostering her love of the visual side of science though microscopy, and answering some really interesting questions about how cells in a tissue change their shape and probe their environment. She is currently a postdoctoral research assistant at the Stowers Institute in Kansas City, MO. You can read more about her science side here.
During her time on the microscope she doodled (a lot) and while in grad school, developed a habit still in place: science days, art nights and weekends. Her favored mediums change with her mood, the season, and how much time she has in front of her: oils, watercolors, inks, printmaking, a little bit of everything. She has found that each needs the other for the world to be in balance: her science is better with art and her art, better with science.