A Mathie in the Arts World

Thomas Hinsberger, 4B Math/Teaching


It’s easy to get your feet wet when you’ve already plunged into the deep end. At least, that’s what I’m learning at my current co-op placement at Inter Arts Matrix (IAM). There was only one problem: I’m a math student, with no experience in writing up until… well, now.

It’s a common joke at work, when most tasks I do involve “getting my feet wet.” I work for IAM is a mandate-based arts production company. I frequently get assigned tasks I have never done before, and the entire team lends a helping hand in getting me what I need to succeed, whether it be graphic design, video and audio recording, or article writing. It’s a learning experience unlike one I have ever experienced before.

IAM needed someone to help run their pilot project, X-Camera, and I needed a spring co-op. With my experience in teaching and event planning it was a perfect fit! Up until this point, however, my experience was limited to a classroom setting, so I had to hit the ground running in local arts scene.

This really came into focus for me at our first event of the year, which happened at the end of my first week. The goal of our pilot project is to create an “intentional artistic community” for the Region of Waterloo and our weekly Friday events are designed to encourage networking between artists and members of the community, hopefully resulting in interdisciplinary projects. I felt a little out of my element when I was first asked, “Do you consider yourself the creative type?”

The answer is always yes, of course. I frequently admire the beauty of mathematical proofs and love proving them myself. I enjoy discussing teaching strategies for the next generation of math students with other members of the Teaching Students’ Association. I’ve spent hours crafting and analyzing strategies for the reality show Big Brother. But the question I feel they’re really asking is “Are you an artist? A videographer? A writer? Something else?” That answer was always “no” … until now, and here I am, confident in saying yes to each of them.

My passion lies in education, and after almost four years of learning about math, business, and teaching in university, working in a completely new environment is a breath of fresh air. Through our X-Camera project, I’ve gotten the opportunity to be involved with adult education and lifelong learners. I’ve learned skills that I’ve always admired in others, but never thought I would pursue myself. I remember in high school, watching my friends set up the camera to record my graduation. Now I have experience filming interviews and recording audio. Whenever we needed some flair in our presentation for class, someone else always took the wheel with the design. Now not a day goes by without me needing to work my graphic design muscles. I am developing skills I never thought I would do because I had never considered myself an artist. It’s wonderfully refreshing to be a student in a field that I had never lived before.

At the end of the day, this co-op is wildly different than any of my past jobs and education I’ve done. I’ve done no programming, very little math, and no teaching in the traditional sense, but I did get the opportunity to learn skills I never thought I’d even learn. I have made connections with people in a community I barely knew existed and diversified myself into someone who is more than just a math student.