Where once there was STEM, there is now STEAM! The classic subject areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics have been joined in recent years by Art and design, as educators try to stimulate and encourage young minds to interweave the traditional learning subjects with art elements and practices, in an integrated approach. The imagination of learners can be sparked by giving them the freedom to apply creative thinking and design skills to STEM projects, leading to innovative thought and greater engagement with subjects that can sometimes be seen as intimidating.
In a project lasting over three years, artist Aleksandra Mir has combined art with a focus on Space and scientific discovery to stimulate thought, particularly in regard to satellites and human space flight. Aleksandra and a team of 25 young collaborators have created a 200 metre long hand-drawn Space Tapestry using marker pens on canvas, which reveals an episodic visual story of space travel. In addition, Mir interviewed sixteen professionals from the space industry and academia, as she sought to gain an understanding of the infinite universe (in which we are merely the tiniest dot) and the science that has allowed mankind to travel into Space. One of the sixteen interviewees was our very own Space Doctor, InnovaSpace Director Thais Russomano, who was happy to explain to Aleksandra about microgravity and the human physiology problems that can be caused by exposure to it. Dr. Russomano is no stranger to the world of the arts and firmly believes in the importance of promoting multidisciplinary learning, bringing together different but complementary sets of skills to enhance the learning experience. She believes that art most certainly has a role to play alongside the STEM subjects, reinforcing this idea in the Space & Design workshops she gives at Aalto University, Finland.
Space Tapestry is currently on exhibition for free at two venues in the UK: Tate Liverpool until 15th October 2017; and Modern Art Oxford until 12th November 2017. The book entitled, Can't Stop Thinking About the Future, is available to purchase from Strange Attractor in the UK and MIT Press in the US.
Blog written by Mary Upritchard