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‘What to choose, Arts or Science?’ – Artist and Lecturer Fleur Summers on finding a place of belonging

27 June 2019

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By Quang Nguyen.

 

(video still) Fleur Summers, The Supreme Red Rods

 

Fleur Summers is a sculptor, an artist and an art academic, holding the connection between the artwork, the artist and the participants at the center of her interest.

Her work features in the current RMIT gallery exhibition Melbourne Modern: European Arts & Design at RMIT since 1945. However, Summers wasn’t always an artist and her story is highly relatable, and very inspiring for many students having to choose what to do with the rest of their lives at a very young age. In 1983, Fleur Summers was a Science major at Queensland University. She put a pause on her passion for the Arts to fulfill what she thought was her family expectation – to become an academic.

“I used to spend my lunch time at galleries looking at art works as a Science student who couldn’t feel like I belonged to the discipline,” Summers recalls.

After several years working casually, involving a job in Melbourne Museum, Summers finally decided to undertake an Associate diploma in Visual Arts in 1993, followed by a Bachelor degree in Fine Art with Honors at RMIT (1996-98, 2001-02). While Summers still has the same fascination for Science from years ago, she is not a scientist and her work is not a science illustration. As an artist, she draws inspiration from her education background in Science. From her interest in neuroscience, Summers wanted to explore how people interact with the space and the sculpture through her works. She wanted to get people moving and thinking at the same time. Her work displayed in the Melbourne Modern exhibition is a part of Summers’ project-based PhD in ‘The Sculptural Encounter as an Embodied Neurocognitive Experience’. The work focuses on how humans use their bodies to explore and learn about their surroundings.

“I’ve always been connected to Art and I finally found the place I belong to when I became an art practitioner and academic, and the excitement that wakes me up every morning,” Summers said.

No wonder Summers is passionate about the Belonging project at RMIT, which helps students feel a sense of connection to the institution.

“Nowaday students don’t have as much contact with their campus anymore, with alternative online choices, such as online lectures”, she said.

Summers believes in the importance of creating a greater sense of community and connection among RMIT students. Furthermore, she also wants to raise belongingness to a discipline by connecting students and practitioners from other universities with a shared line of work. To escape the “paradox of choice”, the fear of making the wrong choice and ending up not making any choice at all, Summers chose Science as her first degree and was persistent throughout it. Only through actual experience and constant reflection, she found the place she belonged to.

 

Quang Nguyen is a second-year Public Relations student at RMIT, and a Communications intern at RMIT Gallery.

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