By most people’s standards, my professional work is artistry. I’m not a scientist or technologist, nor an accomplished scholar. Why then should I be interested in mathematics, the language of the Universe?
These are my reasons.
1. Pattern recognition
When you practice many problems in many different forms, you see patterns emerging. Not only do you notice these patterns, you learn to recognize them and react appropriately.
This skill translates to every aspect of life. Especially useful is recognizing patterns of human behavior, so you can understand the human forces acting around you and be a better judge of character. This understanding enables you to make wiser choices about your own actions.
2. Succinct Representation
Mathematics is an elegant language, efficient and full of meaning. For example, the single character π is customarily used to represent an infinite string of numbers. Mathematicians always strive for concise representation of ideas.
Simplicity, elegance, and efficiency are valuable to everyone. As a communicator, I deeply admire the language of mathematics and try to imitate it in my artistic works: I organize my words in a hopefully clear way, and delete unneeded material. Elegance follows from these.
Mathematics has taught me diligence like nothing else has. I’ve done enough problems now to know that there is always a solution to be found. (Teachers tend to avoid giving unsolvable problems, though it took me many years to finally believe that.) I want that solution, and if one technique doesn’t work, I’ll jolly well try another! And another. And another. And finally, I will get that solution.
From diligence and the repeated satisfaction of finally solving a hard problem all by yourself comes a confidence that can only be won through struggle. I know that I have the ability to solve hard problems, because I’ve seen my skills tested, and seen that I’m competent by an objective measure. Confidence translates into other areas of life.
Mathematics can be unspeakably beautiful—or horrendously ugly. Suffice it to say that math need not be sterile, boring, or grey. The patterns that live beneath the figures speak volumes to those that listen, and artists should take notice of this natural beauty.