ART AND TECHNOLOGY FOR Late last semester as the days drew colder and shorter, a colorful exhibition of work by the students and faculty of Iowa’s acclaimed 3D design program brought people together for a celebration of creativity at the Drewelowe Gallery in the Visual Arts Building.

Professor Monica Correia, Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Studio

Division and Head of the 3D design program, talked about what it meant to be able to share theirwork again, and how art, technology and teaching converge here at Iowa. For those who might have missed the 3D Design Junction, how did the exhibition come to be? It really started with how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the 3D design discipline, nationally and internationally, and our program. In 2020, we had three shows canceled: one in Milan, the Salone Del Mobile which expects 320,000 people in attendance; the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, in New York; and the other one was the SOFA, in Chicago. That was somewhat traumatic for the students; they understood, but they were very disappointed, because those events are an opportunity for them to create important connections. Not having these events really had such an impact on our students that when the university and the school began to reopen, I thought we had to do something to bring the morale back and have our people engage in some kind of collaboration. So, I proposed we have an exhibition showcasing the work of students, graduate students and faculty, all together. I called the other faculty that teach in 3D design- Vako Darjania, Suzanne Bradley, and Steve McGuire- and we all had our work up, which was exciting because my own shows had also been cancelled. But it was especially an opportunity to have our students get together and look at what they were making; and the majority was actually brand new BFA students. They got to look at what their peers were doing in the classes, organize the space and plan how to hang the majority of the work and make the space cohesive.

It was really great because it gave the students that are new to the program an idea what the atmosphere of working together in collaboration looks like. The students invited their families, and we had a packed gallery. I know that an important piece of technology for the 3D design program that factored into the exhibition was the BigRep large-format 3D printer. What drew you to this technology, and what does it make possible? It was actually a dream of mine for a long time, because with that scale you can actually print furniture like a chair, but the cost put it out of reach in the past. Then I was in London the year before COVID to exhibit my work and I saw this printer in the design museum in London, and thought we really needed this in Iowa. So, I wrote a (Student Technology Fees) grant and had to make a strong case, but ultimately the college saw what the significance and benefits of this tool were. I made a new assignment for our students to design hanging lamps, fixtures- not chairs yet, because it’s a different approach- but gave the students the restrictions and they made shapes for lampshades, and it was very exciting for them. This show highlighted the very first pieces that were made with this printer, which is a pretty cool thing, and now I feel stronger moving into the seating assignment.


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