We have heard of Galileo’s scientific writings being portrayed as “beautifully elegant” and Bach’s heavenly music being described as “mathematical”. Time and again, we have come across exemplary human beings who proved that science and the arts can influence each other; that these two seemingly different fields can tie the knot and sustain each other for a lifetime.
Let’s meet Dr Deepa Ram, whose dual interest in science and art has elevated this gifted personality to the heights of success as a scientist, poet, writer and painter, all rolled into one beautiful human being.
Dr Deepa Ram is an Indian-Australian poet, artist, science educator and scientist. She currently works for Deakin College, Deakin University, lectures Chemistry to biomedical students from around the globe and is actively engaged in Science Education research. Poetry, music and painting was in her veins right from childhood, although she pursued Science as her profession. She was selected as one among the five best International Poet of 2016 by the World Union of Poets and has innumerable publication of poems in many global anthologies including The World Poetry Book and The World Peace Anthology. Her own publication of poetry “The Inner Quiet” secured a position to be displayed at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
Her second anthology, a visual poetry book with painting is under progress. She is also a vocalist and Veena player. Dr Ram has a rich sense of metaphors and imageries both in her poems and paintings. She was deeply attracted to Australian Aboriginal paintings of captivating spiritual flavour as she set root in Australia. She specialises in dot paintings with rich colours and enchanting visual images where she also infuses other tribal arts, mandalas, zen tangles and fractal art. She has participated in many international exhibitions. A few to be mentioned are Alliance Francaise in India 2017, The Index Exhibition, 2018 Dubai, Year of Tolerance 2019 Abu Dhabi, Women’s Day, Sharjah and New York Art Expo, 2019.
Scientist. Lecturer. Poet. Writer. Painter. Vocalist. Veena Artist. Definitely, a rare combination but you proved that great scientists are excellent artists too. When did you realize you have the talent for both art and science?
My dad was a science professional and my mom a musician. I believe, I have both faculties in me for this reason, and both were nurtured right from childhood.
It always appeared to me that Art and Science are two sides of the same coin, with a fine borderline separating them. For me, it is a collective thinking where one does not exist without the other.
As a Lecturer in Chemistry at Deakin College, Deakin University, Australia and being involved in carbon nano fibre research and science education research, do you use the fine arts to explain scientific concepts to your students?
Creativity is one of the most important characteristics of humans. It is a culture in both science and art as a unitary construct. Although, we associate the term creativity generally to artist and writers, we should not fail to witness the creativity in all major scientific inventions and discoveries as well. Nature is a rare combination of both Science and Art, creativity and intellect, and I appreciate my students to be “students of nature”, while they build up their scientific temper.
While they teach the Second and Third Law of Thermodynamics, I redirect their attention to the fractal arts obvious in nature such as clouds, leaves, or Broccoli and how Nature controls the enthalpy and entropy to create such fractal arts.
You have experienced the scientific worlds of both India as well as Australia. In your personal opinion, which of the two countries allow greater freedom for intellectuals to merge their scientific pursuits with artistic contributions?
In Australia, the education is more “socially relevant” as a learning outcome and it promotes students to think out of the box during learning situations by providing more vocational training that allow creativity in education. However, in India, the education is more rigid and theoretical framework is given more credit than creativity in practical applications.
You have proven your innate ability to capture the beauty of what you observe and turn that fascination into pure art. What do you personally consider as your most cherished, priceless contribution?
I cherish all my creative endeavours – be it paintings, poetry or music – as they are my tools to vent out my emotions. I do not weigh one over the other but my book in progress which is a series of conversation about recent science developments with an artistic hue could be one of a kind.
Would you say that your migration to Australia inspired you to experiment with Aboriginal paintings and merge it with the mandala art of India?
Definitely, yes. Australia introduced me to dot paintings of aboriginal nature and inspired me to blend the dot technique with Indian traditional arts and in my own abstract paintings. I could meet many Aboriginal painters, learn their lifestyle and how they are spiritually connected to their art works. This was a huge eye-opener to the artist and writer in me.
What or who was the inspiration behind your book, The Inner Quiet?
My maiden poetry book, The Inner Quiet is a soliloquy, where I speak to my inner self and also to the physical nature. It has more of a spiritual content. The inner journey I had during those times was the inspiration to the book.
The logic of science and spontaneity of art is visible in whatever you choose to do. So, what are your future plans to make best use of art to advance science?
Science and art springs from different domains of an individual’s inner being. Science uses more of conscious and sub-conscious, while pure art mainly emulates from intuition and the unconscious and is more spontaneous too. The careful balancing act of these two faculties could make magical contributions in both fields. I inspire my students to write or create art pieces based on the science concepts that they have learned. This strengthens their knowledge about the concept and opens new avenue of thought as well as application to widen the concept and make the learning process more enjoyable.