While reading Out of Our Minds by Ken Robinson, which I'm sure I will reference many more times, I was introduced to the history of the separation between art and science. I had always wondered how we'd managed to get from the multi-talented interdisciplinary Greeks to the specialized modern world and here was at least part of an answer.
Apparently, It all started with Nicolaus Copernicus and heliocentrism, the idea that the earth moves around the sun. Galileo Galilei is the name most people associate with heliocentrism, as he delved into it a generation later, but Copernicus began the idea.
With Galileo began the separation of Church and State, which until then might as well have been one being. Suddenly, during the Renaissance and into the Enlightenment, everyone was asking new questions and a new paradigm was established.
During the Renaissance, art and science were still closely intertwined. We still use the term Renaissance woman or man to describe someone who is well versed in many disciplines. Just think of Leonardo Da Vinci, painter, inventor, and sculptor extraordinaire.
But in the Enlightenment, under the lead of those like Rene Descartes, the "I think therefore I am" guy, science became much more particular about who it would share its bed with. Rationalism and Empiricism took over and suddenly the arts found themselves being shifted to the sidelines.
In reaction to this, the Romanticists burst onto the historic stage. Musicians, poets, painters, and artists of all kinds sprang up to "[focus] on the quality of human experience and on the nature of existence" (Robinson, pg. 97). Romantic music has always been my personal favorite; it was the first form of classical music that truly moved me and the era that I have always enjoyed playing the most.
The separation of science and art has persisted and deepened until today, when we take it for granted. There are the artists and the scientists, the descendants of the Enlightened and the Romantics, and they rarely overlap. As I read Ken Robinson's chapter on what he called the Academic Illusion, I scribbled "what about enlightened romantics?" in the margins. When I started writing this post I realized that they have existed, the artist scientists, the Renaissance men and women, but they have become figures in history instead of contemporary role models. In my work as a community artist, I hope to restore that bridge.
While I support the separation of Church and State, the separation of Art and Science is true blasphemy.
The fixed notion of Community Art is elusive, and yet, community art has been around for centuries. Artists are intrinsically drawn to the world they live in, and for many that means not only viewing but participating in it. As I start my personal journey with Community Art, I intend to find out what exactly it means, how exactly it can be defined, so I can help spread this creative fervor and transform the general public into the creatively passionate.