Career Migrants: 20-Year Old Maryam Manzar, Chemistry Student & Self-Taught Artist

By October 27, 2017 No Comments

John Maeda in a discourse on Scientific American explains what we are trying to accomplish with the Career Migrants series. He draws a fantastic similarity between the Artist’s studio and the Scientist’s laboratory – Art and science. To those who practice neither, they seem like polar opposites, one data-driven, the other driven by emotion. One dominated by technical introverts, the other by expressive eccentrics. For those of us involved in either field today (and many of us have a hand in both), we know that the similarities between how artists and scientists work far outweigh their stereotypical differences. Both are dedicated to asking the big questions placed before us: “What is true? Why does it matter? How can we move society forward?” Both search deeply, and often wanderingly, for these answers. We know that the scientist’s laboratory and the artist’s studio are two of the last places reserved for open-ended inquiry, for failure to be a welcome part of the process, for learning to occur by a continuous feedback loop between thinking and doing.”

This juxtaposition is true in the work of Maryam Manzar whose work brings sinews of biology/chemistry into art. She is a Chemistry student and an artist whose art is an ectoplasm of her scientific side. Maryam Manzar is a cocktail of a multiverse of abilities and talents.
She shares her story with us here: 

For Creative Girls: We would love to know your story and career journey into being a Chemistry Student and an Artist. Can you walk us through your story and journey from what you studied in school till now?
I chose science subjects in 9th grade which led into me selecting Pre medical in college, in the year 2013.
My art journey began in 2014, a few days before my final exams when procrastination forced me to pick up my paint palette I had since I was in 5th grade. I made a painting of a girl and posted it on my Instagram. My friends and family appreciated the painting and it was all the encouragement I needed. After that, I painted one painting after another and haven’t stopped since.
Prior to that, my science diagrams and handwriting was always appreciated by teachers but I never knew I’d be an artist one day.
Even though I studied biology for four years, this subject and I never came to terms with each other so I decided medical wasn’t the field for me. I decided to opt for chemistry as my major as it has always been my favourite subject since I was in school. I am majoring in chemistry from Quaid i Azam University Islamabad, currently enrolled in my 5th semester of BS.

Since 2014, I’ve been balancing art and chemistry side by side.

Your work in Chemistry and Art often get infused into one another. What specific moments led to you migrating in between two fields or merging the two?
I wouldn’t say I migrate between the two fields. Instead, I take them side by side, spending time on art when chemical reactions exhaust my brain. Chemistry has always been my favourite subject but art is my passion which is why I try to keep balance between both.
I try to show people the fun side of the subject by sharing chemistry puns and some pictures of lab experiments.
I haven’t merged the two fields yet but definitely plan on doing so in the near future.

Related: Kimbra Turner, Biologist & Scientific Illustrator/Designer

In your experience and opinion, Why are we as humans insistent in creating a dichotomy between Science & Art? Is it just a labeling issue or something a bit more egotistic, or a difficulty to cohabit?
The dichotomy between art/STEM is one of the many reasons I couldn’t choose art as my major. This issue has been prevailing in the society for a very long time and has caused many people to give up their dream of pursuing a degree in arts.
I believe that people today have become workaholics, insistent on revolutionizing the world through new technologies and inventions. This can only be achieved through studies and advancement in STEM subjects.

Science may have the ability to create a better future for the people but only art brings peace and satisfaction. Art is the means through which people can express the emotions and feelings and show their empathetic side to the world in a beautiful way. What brain is to revolution, emotion and soul is to art. Whether this dichotomy is a labelling issue or an egoistical one, it needs to be eliminated and art should be given the due importance it deserves.

And how can we make STEM & Arts/Humanities cross-pollinate better?
Art and STEM can be cross pollinated if both fields are studied. Fine art should be offered as a minor subject to all students studying stem subjects so that they can explore and relate this field with science. I believe if we can relate the two, art can be used to make science subjects easier and more interesting. Not only that, it will also lead to more discoveries and inventions.

Tell us about stories that you hope to create in the near future and the overall legacy you intend to create.
After graduation, I plan on making chemistry easier for students by doing what I can to make the subject a bit more fun and interesting. Using the techniques from the field of art, I want to make three dimensional structures of compounds that haven’t been made before with a help of a 3D pen and a craft knife.
I also have plans on getting a diploma in fine arts to refine my skills and learn more about this field. I also hope to give beginner classes in painting and modern English calligraphy to people like me, who for some reason couldn’t pursue the field of art. I plan on holding exhibitions for my paintings as well.


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