Digital technologies are a pervasive and constant tool in our lives and classroom instruction. It seems odd to attempt to separate out and define exactly how and why any “new” use of digital technology will enhance or augment our programs. This is the primary reason that I have not applied for funding under the Mellon Partnership in the past. But now things have dramatically changed. Austin College has committed to funding a maker space and steps are under way to have logistical and financial support for a 3-D printing program. With guidance and funding from the Mellon program I propose to update my courses with the addition of 3-D design and printing assignments. Digital design and printing will be a tool for prototype in advanced studio and as an introductory feature in my fundamentals assignments.
In Art 113 Art Fundamentals, I propose to initiate a 3-D assignment that will require student groups to learn basic 3-D scanning and manipulating processes that will culminate in a finished work that can be printed with the Ultimaker 2+. One starting assignment will have students work in groups and use the architecture of the popular surrealist exercise, the Exquisite Corpse, but in this case, introduced to the digital age. Student will learn to scan with 3-D imaging and then manipulate body regions with programs such as Blender, Mesh Mixer, and Net Fab. These will then be combined into one Mary Shellyan final portrait.
In Art 255 Ceramics, I plan to have students use Sculptris, an introductory modeling program that allows users to manipulate a 3-D model. These models can then be printed as a maquette. Students will critique work before continuing on to produce a full-scale version in clay.
In Art 252 Sculpture, I will have students design using the Tinkercad. Students will then be able to print a maquette and proceed to fabricate the sculpture with steel or even direct cast in bronze.
Desired student outcomes include:
- Introducing new technology into the classrooms – The art world is abundant with media forms; there is literally nothing off limits. Introducing digital media to our students as a critical component of art making will expand their understanding of the 21st C visual vocabulary. With the pending addition of new faculty in our department these beginning steps toward becoming digital versant will represent a foundation to build new initiatives.
- Foster collaborative learning– Many tired project scenarios feature collaborative work. Updating our classroom to include 3-D printing will bring a new energy and excitement to collaborative artistic practice.
- Artists creating better products– Building maquettes or drawing initial designs are often given short shrift by student artists. Product prototyping will result in a more deliberate and aesthetically rich final product.
- Bridge the divide: The myth of emotive creativity is pervasive in young artists; planning and structure are not universally valued. Students will better understand that drafts and revisions are a key factor in art making.