Digital Fabrication Program
Organized by the Crow Collection of Asian Art, the Digital Fabrication program was a collaboration between the Crow Collection and Dallas ISD, in conjunction with the Onstead Institute and the CVAD FabLab. Over the course of the fall semester 2017, art students at the Young Women’s STEAM Academy (YWSA) at Balch Springs Middle School learned the basics of Adobe Illustrator in order to create wearable, laser-cut sculptures inspired by a work of art at the Crow Collection. On October 19 and 26, 2017, the Institute led the Illustrator instruction sessions and brought a portable laser cutter to YWSA, so that students could see how the technology functions firsthand. Once students had completed their designs, FabLab staff used the associated files to create the laser-cut works for the sculptures. The students exhibited their pieces at YWSA event on January 19, 2018. Three of the pieces were on display at the Dallas ISD STEM Expo the following day at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
Following this successful pilot, the Digital Fabrication program continued for its second semester at YWSA with a new group of art students. In addition to exploring and using Adobe Illustrator with FabLab manager Shawn Lopez and taking a virtual tour of patterned Indian art and architecture, the students explored the tradition of geometry in art with local artist Nida Bangash, including her own and other contemporary artists’ work. Bangash’s teaching emphasized the prevalence of geometry in everything—from nature, to fashion, to biology, and how the use of patterning can express complex and personal ideas. During the program, the students worked individually and in collaboration to first brainstorm shapes and patterns that connected to their personal experiences, translated these patterns into Illustrator, and finally used the fabric into which their patterns had been laser-cut to create an installation in the lobby of their school. The students assisted in installing the pieces, and on May 18, 2018, family, friends, and community members gathered to view the finished display and enjoy an opening reception.