Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Science, Art and the Sacred: A Conversation with Brandon Vaidyanathan of CUA

Here is a recent interview I did with Brandon Vaidyanathan of Catholic University of America for his Beauty at Work podcast. I met Brandon at the Scala Foundation conference in Princeton last year, and caught up with him again at this year’s conference.

Brandon is a sociology professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC, and his channel is about how beauty works in our world and shapes the work we do, exploring the meaning of beauty in relation to science, justice, morality, food, religion, work, and other aspects of our lives. Through the interviews he conductsm he examines how beauty works -- how it shapes our personal and social lives in ways that may both contribute to and impede our flourishing.

I talk about my work as a painter and how my training at university in science has contributed to that. I expand further on how I feel that training as a painter might contribute to creativity in scientific research.

In the course of the interview, I refer to the work of the 17th century Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The Abduction of Proserpina, 1621-22

Bernini deliberately cut deeply into the stone to generate sharp shadows, and create a rhythmical array of lines that mimic the mathematical parabolas and ellipses that the physicist uses to describe the natural order.

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