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An Interview with Darlene Farris-Labar, East Stroudsburg University
November 30, 2015
Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to interview a successful 3D designer and sculptor, Christina Douk. As we said in that piece, while a good portion of what is going on in 3D printing is on the science or engineering side of things, there are increasing examples of how the technology is being used in the humanities and social sciences. In this new interview segment, we connected with Darlene Farris-Labar, a 3D artist who also works as an associate professor of Art at East Stroudsburg University (ESU). She is using the technology herself to create artistic pieces that replicate the beauty she finds in nature. She has also taught her own students at ESU how to use the technology for their own artistry through various projects. The interview was conducted via email and our questions with Darlene’s answers appear below:
1) Typically when people think of 3D printing now, it seems it is most often tied to STEM education. Your work, on the other hand, seems mainly focused on artistic opportunities created by 3D printing. What kinds of barriers, if any, did you face when learning about the technology?
2) When did you get your start in 3D printing? What prompted it?
3) What was it from your educational background, if anything, that has helped you on your way?
4) What type(s) of printers, materials and software do you currently use for your design work? Do you have plans to switch or add in the near future?
5) From an artistic perspective, what do you think someone has to keep in mind when they decide to make the switch to this technology from another more "traditional" one?
6) What advantages does your uses of this technology provide in your creative process and designs?
7) We read online that much of your work is inspired by the natural world around us. How difficult was it for you to find ways to take something that occurs in part of nature and is impacted by the elements and translate it into something that is, at least partially, man-made?
8) Also, as someone who is an artist, we would imagine that there is at least a fair amount of detail that goes into the pieces you create as is evidenced in some of the photos of your work online. How are you able to create more sophisticated items with the tools you have available? Does it require the use of other equipment like a finishing tool?
9) What would your advice be for any new artists seeking to get started in the field? Also, what would you tell younger students, especially girls, who want to shape their education and learning to prepare themselves for what would be expected in your field?
10) How have you and your colleagues at East Stroudsburg managed thus far to incorporate 3D printing into the curriculum of your students? What are some examples of the creative things they have been able to design and make?
11) Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years? What would you like to accomplish in 3D printing that you haven't already?
Here are a few more details about Darlene:
During a critical point in time, with our planet currently existing in a fragile ecological state, these topics are incredibly valuable to the world we all depend upon. Farris-LaBar is one of the founders of the fully equipped G3D Lab for 3D fabrication and additive manufacturing, in the Art + Design Department at East Stroudsburg University, where she incorporates 3D Printing in the Curriculum.
In 2015, Farris-LaBar was represented by 3D Printshow in New York, London, California, Paris and Dubai. She also exhibited her 3D printed flowers at COCE, Boulder University in Colorado and presented in Athens, Greece. During the Fall 2014, Farris-LaBar had a solo exhibition at the Madelon.? The show offered 3D printed sculptures, 3D video and photography of native plants significant to the Pocono Region.
She also exhibited in a group show called "Uncommon Denominator II" at the E.O. Bull Center, at West Chester University. During spring 2014, she exhibited a large-scale sculpture and video art installation about bees in San Paulo, Brazil at the Biblioteca Brasiliana in a show called Naturates. She also gave a presentation at the International Conference of Art and Nature. Additional presentations about her work was given in 2013 in both Sweden and Shanghai.
In January 2012 she had a retrospective of her work at the Wu Xing Gallery in Shanghai, China. She was also recently honored to exhibit her work called "Water Has No Boundaries" at both the Fine Arts Gallery at Westchester Community College in New York and the Phillips Museum at Franklin & Marshall College. This sculpture was composed with over 900 bottles of water samples from 60 various locations. In November 2011, she lectured and presented her art at the Visualizing Science and the Environment symposium at the University of Brighton, UK. In 2010 she had a solo show in the Sykes Gallery at Millersville University called Rhythms of a Whole. It was a multimedia environmental art installation with sculpture, illustrations, video, and sound (combining harmonic melodies of monks and honey bees) about the importance of bees.
In 2008, she had a solo show in the Madelon Powers Gallery at East Stroudsburg called "A Symphony on Shallow Waters". This was also a multimedia environmental art installation about the fragile waters of both vernal pools and saltwater marshes. In the past, she has been commissioned to create and weld two large-scale permanent sculptures. One sculpture located near Pittsburgh, PA is made of recycled steel and weighs over two hundred tons.Farris-Labar says, "Working in the 3-dimension offers unlimited possibilities to communicate. Artists' newest tools and materials are endless and regularly reinvented. From the natural world to creations from the most advanced technologies, three-dimensional art can forever indulge our senses."