My work as an artist is centered around exploring human relationships, togetherness, and community through various interactive sculpted structures. During my time as the Research Technician at dFab, I focused on expanding my knowledge of fabricating so I could be more independent in building my work. As an aspiring public sculptor or interactive exhibit builder, I also hoped to gain experience in dealing with contracted work, such as sending invoices and mock-ups to the client. Before I left, I wanted to leave a resource for future dfabbers to use, so I made a set of laser cut samples, as well as learn to program a sign in system that would improve the efficiency of dFab.
Project Evolution/ Process / Challenges
While planning for new projects, I decided to take on commissions as my main focus. As soon as my position started, I was lucky enough to have a few people reach out to me for work. Among them was the request to redesign and fabricate display stands and a crate for the Unravel the Code class. I conducted a series of tests to find the most optimal width and length for the snap connection on the displays. The challenge was in the pressure of such a large scale production. Everything had to work perfectly before I proceeded to cut 50 sheets of plywood.
While the commissions were an extremely valuable experience for me, I still wanted to fulfill my initial goal of learning more fabrication techniques, give back to the dfab community, and make work for myself. I found this to be especially challenging as my time in the studio was cut short by the COVID-19 virus and I could not continue some of the projects I planned for. Instead, I used the time at home to learn Grasshopper, and program in Python to create a card reader that signed students in on a Google sheet.
The impact of the Digital Fabrication studios and the community at MICA
Initially, I dreamed of becoming an expert in every aspect of the process and machinery in dfab but I quickly realized this was unrealistic. However, I continued to learn more than I could have imagined by being surrounded by my hardworking and creative peers. I am energized by their creative processes and approaches to problem-solving that is unique to the dfab lab at MICA!
Being a Research Tech felt like winning the lottery in many ways. I loved every bit of learning, troubleshooting, making mistakes, and the freedom to explore whatever I wanted while being surrounded by an amazing community. I now know a lot more about directing my own path as a maker after undergrad, and I continue to look for ways to be involved with making in education.