3 June 2019
Mathematics at Work in Cultural Education


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Mathematics and art would appear to be like chalk and cheese. However, Shirley Odelia KHNG, who graduated with a B.Sc. in Applied Mathematics in 2007, shows how mathematics can be observed in aesthetics and the arts. 

Shirley, an Education & Outreach Manager with the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, said, “I believe there is an art and science to understanding and describing the world around us. This has spurred my career. I combine analytical skills from my mathematical background with a passion for the arts in my work in the cultural field.”

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Through her work with various arts and cultural institutions, which included a stint at the Singapore Art Museum, Shirley has discovered how artists are drawn to ways of thinking that are similar to mathematical patterns and frameworks. 

Shirley Khng SAM Experience

Shirley is also passionate about how arts and science can help others. In her current work in cultural education, she continues to combine her analytical thinking with her keen sense of aesthetics to help artists. Respecting the artists’ craft and possessing competence in programme management has allowed her to gain the trust of artists and have led to fruitful partnerships. She said, “The importance of the imagination and analytical thinking are shared by the seemingly disparate disciplines of arts and mathematics. This is evident in my daily work.”