Lady Slippers and High Technology – An Interview with Darlene Farris-LaBar
Artist and Educator Darlene Farris-LaBar gives us her thoughts on incorporating 3D Printing in Fine Art, how 3D Printing can impact the environment, and the new Stratasys J750 3D Printer
Darlene Farris-LaBar is a busy woman. Not only is she an Associate Professor at East Stroudsburg University and an internationally known artist, and mother – but she’s also on the cutting edge of 3D printing Technology. She recently took a few minutes out of her hectic schedule to sit down and answer some questions about her art, the environment, and the new Stratasys J750 3D Printer in her classroom.
Why did you choose to explore 3D printing as the medium for your artwork?
I started as a fine artist with a background in sculpture and painting but, later picked up a degree in digital media arts. I’m always looking for ways to combine my passion for art with modern technology. As a sculptor, I have always been excited about learning new techniques, materials and technologies. My past sculptures and installations have incorporated various media such as organic material, found objects, sound, video, electronic media and even light sensors. Sculpture offers artists an endless amount of media to work with. After learning about 3D printing I saw a new possibility for expression. After researching and teaching myself 3D digital software, 3D scanning and 3D printing techniques I saw new opportunities to extend our imagination to unknown territories.
What advantages does 3D Printing technology provide in producing your pieces?
It allows for me to create nearly exact replicas of plant species but the digital files allow me to change the scale when needed. I can reproduce even the most delicate parts of plants, allowing the viewer to be immersed in a world they would not be able to see with the naked eye. It allows me to show that each plant offers so much more in its physical make-up than what is seen during a casual glance at the plant itself.
As an environmental artist, how do you see 3D Printing technology influencing the environment?
I see 3D printing opening up opportunities to innovative and creative thinkers who will create new materials, products and more for a sustainable culture.
You’re a Professor of Art at East Stroudsburg University – are your students embracing technology in their work?
Yes, they are! Having the technology in our Art + Design program is offering an amazing opportunity for my students. Many very interesting things have also been created so far and I look forward to seeing what their ever so impressive minds can come up with.
How do you incorporate 3D Printing and technology into your classes?
I have had the opportunity to teach an array of classes such as Graphic Design, Sculpture, 3D Design, and Object Design. In these classes students have used 3D printing in pragmatic ways, such as product design and branding to areas through self expression in fine art.
East Stroudsburg University recently purchased one of the new Stratasys J750 3D Printers – how do you feel that the new printer, with all of the color and texture capabilities, will grow your work?
I will now have the opportunity to use color in my work, digitally, like I would a painting but now be able to print it out in the same full color. The chance to create transparencies with tints of multiple color throughout an object will be ground breaking in my work.
What design programs are you using for your sculptures?
I am using Rhino and Adobe Photoshop software to create these works. Rhino allows me to model the flowers while Photoshop enables me to add the color.
Are your students excited to utilize the Stratasys J750?
Yes, they have been anticipating the arrival of the printer all year! It was like waiting for the arrival of a new baby. They know a lot about what the printer can do and I am excited to begin teaching new 3D projects in my upcoming sculpture class that will take full potential of the printer’s capabilities.
Your 3D printed artwork has been very well received, both nationally and internationally, and you’re currently exhibiting pieces around the world. Will you tell us more about your current pieces and the show you’re exhibiting in?
I have the opportunity to exhibit my first full color J750 print in an upcoming exhibition in Germany. The show is called “3D Pioneer Challenge: Pushing the Boundaries” and is highlighting artists and designers from around the world who are considered pushing the boundaries in 3D printing. I am the only artist traveling from the U.S.A. I will be traveling next week so I can be present during the awards gala for this event. After I visit the exhibition in Germany, I will be traveling to Switzerland where I will be researching endangered flowers in the Alps and digitally designing them in full color.
With all that you’ve already accomplished, what’s next?
I am interested to continue to research areas that are being most hit with Climate Change. I hope to document the flowers in full color so more people can become aware of the value of these magnificent and significant plants and flowers on our planet.
To view more of Darlene Farris-LaBar’s artwork, visit her website at: http://www.darlenefarris.com/