IMSSA Talent Show: The Collaboration of Art and Science

IMSSA Talent Show: The Collaboration of Art and Science

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By: Katherine Schwenger

Photograph courtesy of Matthew Wu

The Institute of Medical Science (IMS) Student Association holds an annual end of year talent show to highlight the artistic diversity within the department. A wide array of IMS students and faculty showcased their hidden talents, while raising money for a local charity.  On a Thursday evening in July seven acts took stage; including IMS Student Association’s president Rageen Rajendram who rapped a freestyle inspired by IMSSA and the charity, as well as two other original songs. IMS students and faculty filled the event space and enjoyed an evening mesmorized by their peers’ creative abilities.

This year’s winner for the talent show was a second year Master’s student graduate, James Hong. During his performance he captured the audience’s attention with his violin, by performing the 3rd movement of Seitz’s 4th violin concerto. James currently conducts research at the Toronto Western Research Institute under the supervision of Dr. Michael Fehlings.

At age 10 James’s mother decided to enroll him in violin lessons, and the rest is history. Not only is he a proficient violinist, but he also plays the piano. When asked if he currently performs, he responded that he “frequently plays Argentian tangos and jazz piano for de-stressing after a long day. [He is] fascinated with the 19th century evolution of both genres.”

Although James is passionate about the arts, science has always been his main focus. His goal is to complete a combined MD-PhD degree and become a clinician scientist. His research focuses of identifying the cellular cues that are responsible for the distinct neural stem cell fate specifications between cervical and thoracic spinal cord injury. James’s career path is driven by science, but when asked how he has been able to integrate his devotion for music he stated; “I feel that science and music share many things in common: both require rigorous dedication, creativity, and passion. Thus, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to start my career in the sciences with a primed mentality of what is expected of me.” When reflecting upon how the violin changed his outlook with regards to science, James found that “after meeting so many colleagues with a passion for music, I have noticed that there is undeniable evidence that music is linked to success in both science and medicine. I feel that studying music or any other creative discipline (e.g. dance or visual arts) is beneficial for the cognitive development of an individual.”

The collaboration between science and art has the potential to generate a new way of thinking, understanding, and approaching to research—which has the potential to benefit both fields. When asked if there is a future for the collaboration between arts and science James declared that; “it is already happening! Many scientists are interested in the cognitive processes of musicians, and many musicians are exploring the impact of music and how it stimulates different parts of the brain. This shared passion for a common goal has the potential to evolve our understanding of both art and science.”

The IMS has created an environment that cultivates future scientists to work alongside artists, thus providing both fields with an exciting collaborative future. Keith Tyson, a British Artist, eloquently describes this collaboration: “If you attempt to marry and equate art with science, then you fail. If you allow what is not similar about art and science, and their different methods and processes, to co-exist and thrive, then a real art/science collaboration and aesthetic will emerge. But at the end of the day, art and science are united by one logic and one impulse—both are attempts to understand what it is to be human and the world around us.”