Penn State Students Embark on New Opportunity to Fill Art Gallery in Pittsburgh with Original Work

Thanks to a strong relationship between The Penn State Center: Engaging Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, more than two dozen Penn State undergraduate and graduate students will contribute artwork to the visual art exhibition, “Digital Hand,” at 709 Penn Gallery in Pittsburgh from April 25 to May 25.

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This shawl was made by Negar Fadaeidehkordi, a second-year photography M.F.A. candidate who came to Penn State from Iran. It is worn by Chia Yen Gan, an undergraduate sculpture student from Malaysia.

It gives the students and faculty access to large populations of people who appreciate and love art, which is valuable to an artist. The community also becomes enriched by the students’ enthusiasm and new ideas.”

University Park, PA (PRWEB) April 23, 2014

The shelves in Brooks Oliver’s workspace are filled with dozens of ceramic pieces – a semester’s worth of graduate-level artwork in a neutral palette of grey, blue, black and white. But the hybrid objects, balanced on a fine line between sculpture and function, won’t stay there for long. He’s preparing to graduate from Penn State’s School of Visual Arts with a Master of Fine Arts, specializing in ceramics. But before he leaves Pennsylvania for his next chapter across the country, he’ll pack up some of his favorite artwork in protective foam cases and trek to Pittsburgh.

"I am interested in showing people how technology can enter the artwork in a way they might never have expected,” Oliver said. “I want to demonstrate how technology can be a tool rather than a final product."

Oliver, along with two dozen other Penn State undergraduate and graduate students, will contribute artwork to the visual art exhibition, “Digital Hand,” at 709 Penn Gallery in Pittsburgh. The student artists will fill the entire gallery with their work for a month.

“Being an artist is not just about making the work,” Oliver said. “It's also about how you present the work and talk about the work to the public.”

The exhibition, made possible by The Penn State Center: Engaging Pittsburgh, features original objects created by students participating in ART 397B/497C, also titled “Digital Hand.” It’s a course that explores the sculptural possibilities of digital fabrication. Tom Lauerman, assistant professor of art and area head of the sculpture studio, said student artists are introduced to 3-D modeling programs and a range of digital fabrication equipment including 3-D printers, 3-D scanners, computer-controlled milling (CNC) machines and laser cutters. Students are encouraged to mix art, craft and design techniques to achieve a layered complexity in their works.

The exhibition opens during the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Gallery Crawl in the city’s Cultural District and most of the students will travel to downtown Pittsburgh on April 25 to interact with members of the general public in an urban setting. The Gallery Crawl is a free event that brings hundreds of people together to celebrate art, music and film in a casual setting several times a year.

"The students are used to being in a classroom or in a critique setting and the Gallery Crawl is really not like either one of those. This will be much more fun,” said Lauerman. “We sometimes get so serious in class that students might forget that art can be an exciting opportunity for interaction with a broader public.”    

Fenny Lai craves this out-of-the-classroom experience. The senior art major has never participated in a gallery installation outside of University Park. She sees this chance as professional development.

"We are often asked to expand our work so that others who aren't in the University setting can see it,” Lai said. “I want to make connections.”

Deno De Ciantis understands the importance of forging those connections. As director of The Penn State Center: Engaging Pittsburgh, he and his colleagues built the relationship with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust over time to make this exhibition happen. He said this real world experience becomes mutually beneficial to both the students and the people of the greater Pittsburgh area.

"It gives the students and faculty access to large populations of people who appreciate and love art, which is valuable to an artist,” he said. "The community also becomes enriched by the students’ enthusiasm and new ideas.”


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