Arts and sciences are usually thought of as being completely separate, especially at the collegiate level.
Friday’s joint event, held in the Don Takeda Science Center at College of the Canyons’ Canyon Country campus, aimed to put an “A” (art) in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics, creating STEAM. The event did this by featuring a microbiology-themed scavenger hunt with an art exhibit by artist Phoebe Takeda.
If Phoebe’s last name rings a bell, that’s because her father, Don Takeda, is the building’s namesake and is also a long-time science professor at COC. The event was a testament upon a testament of the Takeda family, celebrating not only the successes of Don’s contributions to science and education but also Phoebe’s successes in telling the stories of her family through her art.
Ryan Thuele, vice president of COC’s Canyon Country campus, said having the duo highlighted at this event was a perfect metaphor for what COC is trying to accomplish.
“We were very excited tonight to showcase… Phoebe Takeda, who was someone with an artistic flair, but also, you know, raised by and inculcated in science by the amazing Dr. Don Takeda,” said Thuele. “And so we thought tonight would be a lovely opportunity to showcase her artistic side concurrently with some of our students who are also showcasing what they’ve learned in the classrooms.”
Don called the entire experience an honor, saying that incorporating art into STEM, especially his daughter’s, is critical to the department’s success.
“You can’t just be science alone… to make things much more full, you have to have the arts, you have to have the arts and humanities,” said Takeda. “And I’m glad that she finished up with this exhibit of not only the fashion design, but also the meaning behind her work.”
Phoebe, who has a background in fashion design, created a tapestry and wearable art-themed gallery titled “My Family/History/Future,” which was meant to bring to light the experiences of her family following Executive Order 9066, which forced more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans into internment camps during World War II.
“That certainly is something that people have to be aware of and continually stay on top of,” said Don. “So, you know, this is really important for me to see her do this, and I’m very proud to be able to present this here.”
“It’s just really important to know about because it’s not really taught about that much, like, growing up in school,” said Phoebe. “I’ve been told, like to my face, that it wasn’t that bad. And I just think… what a thing to say about something like that, taking somebody’s civil rights and freedom and hope and life away.”
Phoebe said that floral imagery and other elements of natural beauty were highlighted in her art for historical reasons, not just stylistic ones.
“Creating beauty in dismay and beauty behind barbed wire to make a community, to bring any sort of happiness into the camp, because they didn’t know how long they were going to be there… What if this was the rest of their life? What are they going to do but make something where they can feel like they could possibly live,” said Phoebe.
In addition to the gallery, Phoebe encouraged attendees to make origami figurines, which she said is based on an ancient Japanese legend that if one folds 1,000 cranes, God will grant you a wish.
“I would like, you know, everyone to fold a crane. But not only that… write a message on your paper or write something hopeful, a wish, positive message folded into your crane and pile them together,” said Pheobe. “So everybody’s positivity and hopeful wishes for the future are all in there together.”