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Dynamic art project gives WSU students fitting, real-world experience

Like the gears in a finely tuned machine, donor contributions keep many non-profits – including the Palouse Discovery Science Center – running smoothly. So when digital media students at Washington State University were asked to visually represent donor support for the PDSC, the idea of interconnected gears quickly emerged and became, quite literally, the perfect fit.

Reza Safavi.

Seventeen undergraduates in Reza Safavi’s fine arts course in introductory digital design and fabrication last spring worked individually and as a team to create a 7-by-7-foot interactive art installation composed of 22 precision-cut and fitted, wooden cogwheels bearing the names of PDSC’s generous benefactors.

“The project provided an opportunity for our students to gain professional experience by working with a community organization to design, create and present an interactive, digitally fabricated, public work of art,” said Safavi. “It’s a great example of how WSU classes can engage with the wider community and further serve the university’s land-grant mission.”

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WSU Insider


CAFE 541: Avantika Bawa’s unambivalent art now showing at Ditch Projects in Springfield

Avantika Bawa.

In this week’s edition of “Five Questions With …,” CAFE 541 sits down with Portland artist Avantika Bawa, associate professor of fine arts at Washington State University Vancouver, who is currently showing ”#FFFFF,” part of her “Scaffold Series,” at Springfield’s Ditch Projects gallery. Bawa’s utilitarian structures, appearing in Mumbai and the White Salt Desert in India and in Astoria lose their function to become strange, stark elements of what are often already strange, stark settings.

You have been a contemporary artist for many years. I’m curious what or who inspired you to follow the path of becoming a contemporary artist?

It just happened! I cannot pinpoint exactly when it started but working with drawing tools was always part of my life. I recall one day, when I snuck into my father’s office at age 6 and began to draw with staples. I wondered how many other non-art materials I could draw with. From there, my curiosity and explorations only grew. The inspirations have been many, ranging from an endless number of artists, filmmakers, musicians and friends to traveling to new and obscure places. The list is endless. We would need a longer interview for this!

As a contemporary artist, is there a tool or a material component that you couldn’t imagine going without? Why is this so integral to your work?

Yes and no. I like the challenge of landing in a site and working with the materials I find there. I embrace the “locally sourced” and “fabricated” materials and see how far I can go with just that.

Having said that, I do like a box of 2B pencils, a 12- to 16-inch straight edge and a mechanical sharpener that won’t suddenly die. That’s technically three tools, but I see them as related. I use a lot of graphite lines in my work, and I need my lines to be sharp and straight! Although ”#FFFFFF” does not use any of these, the aesthetic is still evident. You can observe a lot of sharp straight lines in the scaffolds and its shadows.

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The Register-Guard

Washington State University fine arts professor is taking on the issue of plastic waste

“Willow of the Waste” is an interactive mechanical tree installation, that “breathes” with mechanical movements. It opens its branches inviting you to go inside.

Sena Clara Creston.The art piece is made of used plastic grocery bags and water bottles that Washington State University’s professor of Fine Arts and Digital Media, Sena Clara Creston saved for the past three years.

Creston, a New York City native, said she did not grow up with a whole lot of wild life and nature. Instead, she said she grew up seeing plastic bags floating around the city. She wants to recycle that trash into something with a better meaning.

“I am thinking about this as things that are really helpful and people need and want,” Professor Creston said. “But they are destroying our planet and covering it with plastic. So we think about it as a sweet and supportive environment that maybe is trying to consume us and take over.”

The grand opening for WSU Fine Art Faculty Exhibition will start January 31, 2020, at five p.m. at WSU Art Center. It will feature art by Creston and 15 other fine arts faculty and staff from three WSU campuses.

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Daily Evergreen

WSU Tri‑Cities exhibition showcases art from faculty and staff statewide

An exhibition at Washington State University Tri‑Cities will showcase art professionally created by WSU faculty and staff from across the state now through Feb. 28 at the WSU Tri‑Cities Art Center.

A grand opening for the exhibition is scheduled for 5 p.m.–7 p.m. on Jan. 31 in the WSU Tri‑Cities Art Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The exhibition will feature a range of styles of art, including interactive and electronic sculptures, ceramics, photography, painting, drawing and more. It will specifically feature works from 16 faculty and staff from the WSU Tri‑Cities, WSU Vancouver and WSU Pullman campuses.

At the grand opening on Jan. 31, attendees will have the opportunity to meet many of the artists featured, enjoy wine and light refreshments, as well as get an up‑close look at the works of art.

Remarks begin at 5:30 p.m.

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WSU Insider

WSU fine artist explores ‘internet addiction’ with paintings

Joe Hedges.

Washington State University fine arts faculty member Joe Hedges has been thinking hard about the slash in his title: Assistant Professor of Painting/Intermedia.

“There’s a lot of ambiguity with that slash,” Hedges said. “Is it painting or intermedia, painting and intermedia, or paintings that are both painting and incorporate other media? I have basically been trying it all.”

Among Hedges’ latest artworks are oil paintings of beautiful landscapes but with a twist. They incorporate flat screen televisions, smart phones or other objects to become what he calls “Hypercombines” — paintings that are connected to the internet.

“I started thinking about this buzz phrase that was going around a few years ago, ‘the internet of things,’ and asking myself why couldn’t an oil painting be part of the internet of things? What would that look like?” he asked.

Those questions have inspired and informed several of his new works to be exhibited at Artworks Gallery in Loveland, Colorado, Nov. 8–Dec. 18, and at Chase Gallery in Spokane, Wash., Jan. 3–March 25.

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WSU Insider