Disrupting the silos of art and science through art eductation
Bettina Forget is a visual artist, gallery owner, art educator and researcher living and working in Montreal.
Born in Germany, Bettina is currently pursuing a PhD in Art Education at Concordia University, Canada. Bettina owns and runs Visual Voice Gallery in Montreal and is Vice President and Director of Fine Art of the Convergence - Perceptions in Neuroscience Initiative.
Tell me about yourself — Who are you?
I am a gallery owner, art educator, researcher and artist. Everything I do orbits the idea of fusing art and science. Amateur astronomy is one of my passions, and as I was completing my BFA I realized that my love for astronomy could inform my artistic practice. I have been creating astronomical art ever since. The idea of converging art and science also began to influence my other professional activities. Since 2014 my art gallery only presents art that makes a connection to science, and my Ph.D. research focuses on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) education. Essentially, it is my aim to disrupt the silos of art and science, and to investigate different kinds of knowledge creation.
What are you doing right now? How does your present work relate to art and art education?
Right now I am pursuing my PhD in Art Education at Concordia University. My doctoral research examines the re-contextualization of art and science, and how women and girls may connect to STEM subjects through art and Maker Education.
This feminist angle is also filtering into my creative practice. Two of my three most recent art projects have dealt with the issue of women in astronomy. My research at the art-science intersection has also lead to work in art education. I am currently co-teaching the course “Convergence: Arts, Neuroscience, and Society” with neuroscientist Dr. Cristian Zaelzer. The two-semester course teams up neuroscience students from McGill University with arts students from Concordia University.
How did Concordia’s ARTE program prepare you for what you are presently doing?
My first foray into teaching art was to design and run a series of art workshops in my gallery. The idea of taking teaching into a new direction, of connecting art education with science education, was slowly germinating in the back of my mind but I did not know how to actually do it. I had no frame of reference, no methodology, no idea of how to do research. The Art Education MA taught me all of that. The ARTE program introduced me to Complexity Theory, to Constructivist teaching, to STEAM and Maker Education and to Design-based Research. All these are essential tools I use nearly every day.
Describe one of your positive formative experiences while you were in the program at Concordia
During my MA research, I had the opportunity to connect with the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in California, as part of my data collection for my MA thesis. I interviewed women who work at the intersection of art and science, hoping to distill these conversations into educational strategies that may bridge art, science and gender. This was the first time I was out in the field conducting research, and it was thrilling. Everything that had been discussed during my course work in theory now became practice: structuring an interview, making field notes, extracting key insights from the transcripts and connecting those insights with theoretical frameworks. It was the first time I felt that my research may make a contribution to the field.