STEM based learning and Art: STEAM

I have recently come across a number of articles about science and art.  I read an interesting article on scientists trying to quantify and explain our personal taste in art, and came across another article showcasing filmmaker Alice Dunseath’s petri-dish Beta and Theta wave artworks.  There is always some great news story out there about science used to explain art, or the marrying of the two.  As subjects they are very different but they are also very similar.  Much like maths and art.  And come to think of it, engineering.  And also technology.  When you really come down to it, art straddles many, if not all, subjects, and all learning is interwoven.  Young children learn so much from creative play, they develop fine motor skills, empathy and social skills, and it is also a form of sensory exploration.  Older students and children can embrace broader subjects and understanding through their creativity.

So it was not surprising when I came across an article about the art based learning of STEM, or STEAM. [STEM programs are Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  The article appeared in the Huffington Post on 7 December 2015, and it is titled Arts Based Learning of STEM Works Says NSF Funded Research Firm.

It discusses, with huge statistical evidence, the benefits of learning through creativity.  It’s an interesting read, and it almost seems obvious that creative thinking, as a model of holistic learning and through incorporating all learning under the umbrella of education as opposed to individual subjects, is the way forward.  The Finnish are doing it already… When I studied special education and areas of art therapy many years ago at University, this was an intrinsic aspect of the learning experience.  It is also an aspect of Montessori and Steiner education, student led creative learning experiences.  I may be thinking very broad here to be linking STEAM with Steiner, but


Since writing this post I have come across more articles in the area of creative learning and STEM.

STEM based learning and Art: STEAM

Collage – artist examples

Collage is an art form that is having a resurgence.  Or maybe it never went away?  Regardless, it is finding its way back into art galleries and into the practice of some well known Sydney artists.  From its early days from the start of the 20th Century, with Picasso and Braque, it has traversed from modernism, satirical, to the decorative and craft.  Resting at the tacky flower decoupaged potpourri holder arts in the mid 1990’s.

But collage is a beautiful thing.  And it is a very accessible art form to introduce into the classroom, at any stage.

collage 1
Artist: Chelsea Tuesday, Sydney Collage Society, image sourced from:

The Sydney Collage Society, established in 2015, is one such group that pushes the boundaries of the cut-and-paste.  A group exhibition, titled Cut It Out!,  (at Low Road Garage in Paddington) was a complete mix up of different collage techniques to show many different ways the art form can be applied.

Another fantastic artist is Oliver Watts, who makes paper cut works. Inspired from Dadaism, and the French poet Tristian Tzara, Watts creates intricate pictures and the re-telling of stories, all from assembling pieces of cut paper.  Watts further explored the genre of collage and paper cuts with his short film, The Sea Hare, 2013, where he re-imagined a fairy tale, based on one by the Brothers Grimm, of a princess in a tower with 12 windows.  Placed quite firmly in the cerebral, Watts’ playful works always make you think.  And they are always beautiful as well.

My favorite collage creating duo are Greedy Hen.  These two awesome ladies have created some wondrous images and landscapes from layering image upon image.  The duo are regularly commissioned to create album cover art for bands, and films clips, and posters and even a clip of kittens smashing up instruments for MTV.  The works traverse easily to the moving image, and always have a sense of play.

Collage – artist examples