When I was in school (as my kids always say, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), math and science wasn’t really taught to girls. Yes, we were in the classroom but we weren’t really encouraged to pursue math or science as a career. Many women of my generation did, and I applaud them for that, they were pioneers. And many female artists started their lives in math and science. Interesting.
When I used to teach beginner quilting I got a lot of math teachers in the summer months. They loved the geometry of the quilts, and the rulers were their favorite tool. Why does quilting and art attract math and science folks? I think it is the problem solving.
So back to cute little buck toothed me in school–math was not my favorite subject, because I had to understand WHY I was using these formulas and doing these calculations. Why do I need to find the area of a rhombus? How many times did I ask “who came up with Pi, and how did they figure that out?” only to be told to go back to the lesson. In grade six the teacher was showing us how to solve some equation or another and I raised my hand and said I had a faster way to do it (for me math was all about logic and relationships). He replied that it might have worked in that case, but it wouldn’t for others. So I challenged him. We did several more equations, I always finished first with the same answer. Then came the instance that we arrived at different answers. He concluded that was the proof that my way didn’t always work. But someone looked it up in the back of the book and I was right. I was sent to the principal’s office for being obstinate and my mother was called. When she got there and the principal told her why, her response was “THAT is why you called me down here??!!?”. Good old mom.
When my high school aptitude test came back it was math front and center. I scoffed. No way, I am going to find a career that doesn’t involve any math at all. Ha.
Fast forward through all my past jobs (that did require math) to today when I am a working artist. Artists are great problem solvers, I am always amazed at what artists are able to figure out when they hit a wall. I think the reason for that, and the reason I didn’t respond to math the way it was taught is the same thing–artists are visual and math isn’t taught that way. I do math in a very visual and logical way, I actually draw little diagrams and fill in the numbers. Artists SEE differently from other people, and that is the way artists approach challenges and solve problems.
This all occurred to me this morning while working on a piece for a commission that is outside my dimensional comfort zone and has presented some interesting challenges I don’t normally face. Consequently, I had issues to overcome, and found myself drawing my silly little diagrams and filling in the numbers. That is when it hit me, what I do does involve math, and logic and for me the solution is always visual.
So what is the point of all this? I needed a break and now I have no excuse not to get back to work!!!!!