Science and art: trapped between two worlds

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[Written by Annegret Maja Fiedler]

[Image by Annegret Maja Fiedler]

“I thought you were going to study fine art,” says a former classmate. I wince in pain. I thought I was going to study fine art, too. Drawing has always been an escape for me. If I would not have moved away from Berlin before completing high-school, I would not be studying marine and freshwater biology at university. In the past, I have felt trapped between two different worlds, art and science.

Although I do not think I had the choice to apply for art school, I am still content with studying a life science course. I did not have the chance to pursue art in the school I had graduated from, after moving from Berlin, but I received surprisingly good grades in chemistry, physics and biology. When it was time to apply for university, studying a science seemed like a more employable option than any other course subject area to my family members. I chose to apply for a marine and freshwater biology degree, because of my love for protecting the environment and interest in deep sea organisms.

I considered dropping out halfway through my degree and wonder if this would have happened if I would have studied fine art. I wonder if analysing art work and creating pieces would feel more natural than sifting through peer-reviewed journal articles. I compared myself to others in my course who seemed more intelligent and involved in extracurricular activities relevant to our academic studies. I, on the other hand, would pursue activities, which served as a creative outlet to escape the rigidity of my coursework. Attending life drawing sessions have helped me wind down after library study sessions. I have also continued taking 35mm film photographs since the age of fifteen. In response to my anxious thoughts about dropping out, I was advised by several people to finish my degree before making other decisions about my career.

Although I am glad I did not drop out of my course, which has taught me invaluable transferable skills, I have been considering employment less related to marine and freshwater biology. I enjoy critical thinking, lab work and loved all the field courses I was allowed to attend. I am very proud to consider myself a scientist equipped with a wide range of field work and data analysis skills. However, I am not interested in marine and freshwater biology research, at the moment, and have been considering other career path options. After initially becoming involved with the Glasgow University Magazine by submitting film photographs, I have started writing articles and poems. This has been inspiring me to apply for a masters in Science Communication, next year, which would utilise my background in science to interact with the public through policies and the media. Over the last few years I have also overcome trauma, gained confidence and have become the person I have always needed the most when I was younger. I have discovered that I love working with people and feel passionate about supporting others. This has led me to consider a career in social work.

I have been feeling less trapped between art and science. I am lucky to be able to indulge in both and other passions however I like. I learned that I can simultaneously work with different interests, and that my decisions regarding future employment can change throughout time. I enjoy the freedom to be creative with art, as much as the trust I am able to have in science. I will always continue painting, drawing and taking photographs. Once I have a stable job, hopefully, I might be able to afford part-time art portfolio classes. I will also continue using the skills from my degree in the future. I am privileged to be able to apply to science graduate jobs, as well as consider employment in other areas. I do, however, have to graduate with a 2:1. Despite feeling motivated to achieve the best grades possible, I would appreciate any luck sent my way.

[Image Description: a photograph of a seashore rock pool with algae and limpets covering them.]


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