By David Pyle, Collaborative Advisory Council member
I have a confession to make: I love organic chemistry. It's true. My original education was in the arts. Music and a BFA in painting and drawing. Then I was ruthlessly seduced by chemistry, physics, and math. That combination fueled a deeply rewarding career in business and media. A career that never would have happened had I not studied music, art, AND science.
Now, after 35 years that included managing consumer brand marketing, teaching, editing, writing, and executive leadership in publishing and media, I'm focusing on creating stories and resources that make those intersections between the arts and sciences - and the opportunities that arise within - clear and irresistible. For example, see the short resource videos at my CreativEnergy channel (https://tinyurl.com/5guohbwa) with titles like: ‘Mystery of the Portly Painting’ (did you know that oil paintings the world over are gaining weight at this very moment) and ‘Where'd that Color (Van)Gogh?’ (let's throw basketballs at poodle-shaped molecule models!). ‘From Caves to Charcoal to Carbon Fiber’ takes a Fred-Flintstone-Cro-Magnon guy from chewing on bear fat to inventing art-making to the molecular tetrahedrals of carbon.
I’ve had such a rewarding career - in business, teaching (art + Montessori), publishing and media - not because I operated as an “art-person” or a “science-type”, but because I’ve been fortunate to live and work in the convergence of the two. I had an inkling of what this could mean when I took my first college course in organic chemistry, a topic that people often say brings them to their knees. It was a summer program in which the class met for three hours each day, jamming two full semesters into just 10 weeks. I did well in the class. Really well. And I found that I loved the subject. Why? Because organic chemistry is highly sculptural. To understand what's happening at a molecular level, you have to be able to visualize what's happening in three-dimensions. I soon concluded that I was in love with the subject (in a way that other students clearly were not!) because of the experience I had as a visual artist. I could clearly SEE what was going to happen around the bonding sites of different molecules and the mechanisms that would drive their "dance”.
Over a period of years, it became abundantly clear to me that one of the most powerful and effective routes to really seeing the mechanisms of chemistry and physics - and of business and management - is through the creative skills that come with an artistic, integrative eye and ear. I've written and spoken about the "Perfect Intersection" in the arts; the fact that learning in the arts creates context and meaning around and within the other disciplines. In the hopes of making that connection tangible and real for others - and to add another voice to the many excellent programs and resources being developed across the STEAM community - I've launched the aforementioned CreativEnergy channel. Free lesson plans and other resources will be added soon.
Confessions of a love for other disciplines? There are so many others who can say the same. And while confession may be good for the soul - I hope it will also be good for STEAM!
About David Pyle
David's 35-year career in the arts and business has been fueled by his education in music, painting, and chemistry. In addition to experience as a teacher, he's managed consumer brands in the artist's products category, serving as Director of Marketing for Winsor+Newton and then Brand Director for Liquitex. In 2000, his book, What Every Artist Needs to Know About Paints and Colors, was published by Krause. Over the last 15 years, he’s served as publisher for the largest media brands in the fine art-making and crafting categories, most recently as Senior Vice President/Group Publisher with F+W Media managing The Artist’s Magazine, American Artist, Watercolor Artist, Interweave Knits, Love of Quilting and, online, ArtistsNework.com, ArtistsNetwork.TV, QuiltingDaily.com and Interweave.com and more. Through it all, he's continued to paint. In 2020, he left the corporate media world and launched a number of art-making initiatives, a new marketing services group called Pyle Creative Studio, and a series of educational resources for the art and science community.