Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan speaking on stage in front of a PowerPoint presentation at Future Human.
Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan. Image: Conor McCabe

‘Art and science were never meant to live in silos,’ says STEAM trailblazer

13 Jun 2022

Indian-born writer and science enthusiast Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan on her long and sometimes frustrating path to her dream STEAM career.

Growing up, Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan’s natural curiosity and love of books meant she never separated art and science.

As she explained to the Future Human 2022 audience, her adult career as a cultural consultant, writer and performer is informed by her insatiable interest in science.

To her, “art and science were never meant to live in silos. They’ve always been entangled, overlapping, interwoven things.

“I feel that they are threads in the same tapestry: everything around you, on you, is the most tangible connection between arts and science.”

As one might expect from a performer who loves language, Narayanan-Mohan’s talk about science and its formative role in her career fizzed with energy.

She is engaging and often amusing when speaking about the various twists and turns in her STEAM career. Born in India, she has lived in several places, including the UK. Ireland has been her home for the past decade. Various visa issues and bureaucratic bumps along the way meant she had to take time away from her studies and chosen career to work in the service industry.

Eventually, Narayanan-Mohan got to do an MA in cultural policy and arts management at University College Dublin. She did her thesis on the Dublin-based science Festival of Curiosity.

“One of the interesting things is when I did that research, I was interviewing artists and scientists about how they felt about this collaboration,” Narayanan-Mohan said.

“It was interesting to find that the scientists actually got more out of it than the artists, because they really loved seeing their research communicated back to them through an artistic lens. They found it invigorating, they found it interesting to see their work from a different perspective, and it really helped them in their research and how they viewed it.”

Towards the end of her talk, Narayanan-Mohan treats the audience to a reading of her poems. Some were inspired by her visits to Dublin’s Dunsink Observatory. The observatory indulged her love of astronomy.

It has figured strongly in her artistic work ever since. One gets the sense that Narayanan-Mohan still can’t quite believe her luck that she gets to work with scientists as an artist and writer.

She confessed to the audience that, as a long-time admirer of Future Human, she had always wanted to speak at it.

“I never in a million years thought I would be coming to this as an actual artist.” Yet, she premiered her latest poetry installation piece, Solar Flares, inspired by the weather, space, and her beloved Dunsink Observatory.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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