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MICA Students and Faculty Collaborate on New Exhibition That Tests the Boundaries of Technology and Design

Pinkard Gallery, Thursday, January 31–Wednesday, March 12

Posted 01.02.08 by MICA Media Relations

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Students and faculty at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) joined together to explore new opportunities for visual expression utilizing new technology, the Mimaki digital fabric printer. MICA is the first higher education institution in Maryland to incorporate this state-of-the-art printer into its curriculum. Fab Lab, presented by MICA faculty members Susie Brandt and Piper Shepard, reveals the most recent findings of what happens when design meets technology. As is the case with many new ventures, the results yielded unexpected and innovative results. The exhibition is on display in Pinkard Gallery, Bunting Center at 1401 Mount Royal Avenue from Thursday, January 31-Wednesday, March 12. A public reception takes place on Thursday, February 7 from 5-7 p.m.

Artists continually push the creative limits of new technology. For millennia, as new technologies for visual imaging and output have been developed-from the loom to the camera to the video iPod-artists have taken it as a challenge to expand the capabilities of these technologies for art-making and production often yielding outcomes for utilization that extend beyond the studio. Fab Lab showcases the results of this creative ingenuity.

Through a generous donation from the Stockman Foundation in 2005, MICA was able to purchase a Mimaki large-format digital textile printer. The Mimaki printer operates much like an ink-jet printer that uses specialized textile dyes instead of ink. After being printed, the fabrics are steamed under pressure to insure proper dye absorption. The fabric is then hand-rinsed and washed to remove excess dye. The arduous process requires stamina and familiarity with the subtleties of fabrics and dyes. After receiving training on the routine applications of the printer, fiber faculty Brandt and Shepard assembled a small group of students once a week to explore its possibilities.

The team began with two questions: What could the Mimaki do that could not be done by hand? And, how does the availability of this tool affect the way the team thinks about print fabrics? The research project took on a more formal structure in fall, 2007 with the creation of the Pattern and Digital Print/Textile class. New questions arose as a larger group of students tackled this project: What happens when a group of creative minds is given access to new technology? Can students and teachers work side-by-side to discover the possibilities of art and design using new technologies?

Brandt, originally scheduled to have a solo exhibition of her work, changed the focus of her show to include the students when she discovered what the class had produced. She recalls, "I realized this is really a unique situation. We're all in it together, learning from each other in an interestingly non-hierarchical way. Everyone has had something to contribute. The whole has been greater that the sum of its parts."

All exhibitions and receptions at MICA are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from noon-5 p.m. For more information, visit www.mica.edu or call 410-225-2300.

MICA's exhibitions and public programs receive generous support from the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Special Programs Endowment; The Nuckolls Fund for Lighting Education, Inc.; the Amalie Rothschild '34 Residency Program Endowment; The Rouse Company Endowment; the National Endowment for the Arts; the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive; and the generous contributors to MICA's Annual Fund.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 52 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.