Betty Brewer: STEM to STEAM

In a February 23 Op-Ed piece in The New York Times, Arnold Weinstein advised “Don’t Turn Away From the Art of Life.” He opined that “great works of art tell us about shape-shifting, about the world and ourselves as more mobile, more misperceived, more dimensional beings, than science or our senses would have us believe.”

In this column I have introduced research topics that prove the value of the arts in education as setting the stage for creative problem-solving and innovative thought in all career paths; discussed ways art can guide community engagement and social narrative; how creating and looking at art can create a sense of well-being. Mr. Weinstein believes that the humanities “interrogate us;” making us take our own measure. Not the same types of measurement you’ll find in the popular STEM fields – a curriculum that integrates science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

STEM disciplines have much to offer. In fact, they are considered to form the platform of the maker’s movement that is driving the development of Gearbox:Muncie. At least, that was what was noted in a recent presentation about Gearbox. However, when you have worked in the arts as long as I have, you know that it is the arts that provide STEM with the STEAM to move forward. And so Muncie Arts and Culture Council continues to help program the currently unfinished space in Gearbox:Muncie. Here’s what’s happening for March’s First Thursday:

DYNAMO, an art collective that creates traveling pop-up art shows will present Bold & Broke. The group comprised primarily of current and former Ball State University students will display a full array of media – drawing, painting, glass, metals, photography, multimedia. Thursday night. 5-9 pm at Gearbox:Muncie (the former Cintas building at the corner of Jackson and Madison) and remember, it’s a pop-up show folks –  once and done, so don’t miss out.

Same place, same night from 6-7 pm, you can catch a truly unique collaboration with the Ball State University School of Architecture, the Department of Theater and Dance, and the IDIA Lab. Space in Motion explores how movement and form interact to create architecture. Twelve dance students will each perform and occupy twelve unique spaces created by twelve architecture students.

Both of these shows will move from STEM to STEAM, giving you an opportunity to learn more about our world and ourselves. Not sure? Then follow another recommendation from Arnold Weinstein’s column and come “try them on.” Only when you allow yourself to experience the varieties of art, literature, music, performance will you begin to take your own measure. It isn’t as neat and data driven as the hard sciences but, to once again quote Mr. Weinstein, “it rivals with rockets when it comes to flight and the visions it enables.”

Downtown Muncie has a lot more than these two programs for your exploration so make sure you get out early and get around. And don’t stop with First Thursday; get out and about anytime to our many venues and try on some art.

– Betty Brewer  president/CEO of Minnetrista and president of the Muncie Arts and Culture Council.