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Oregon College of Art and Craft Explores How Technology and Craft Inform Design Today

In OCAC’s three MFA programs, students join a community of artists and experience the intersection of historical analogue processes and advanced digital making.

The digital fabrication lab at Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) recently hosted artists and designers at an open studio event that challenged participants to “hack” their usual, established processes with new technological resources. Using technology such as commercial 3D printers, a fabricated 3D ceramic printer, laser cutter, CNC router, and vinyl cutter, guests from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) and the University of Oregon explored new techniques to make everything from laser-engraved ceramic tiles to 3D-printed wax models for casting objects in a variety of materials.

“You can’t hack something if you don’t have any skills with it. It takes experience, labor, knowledge,” says Karl Burkheimer, Chair of OCAC’s MFA in Craft program. Burkheimer holds that OCAC’s longstanding tradition of deep knowledge of materials is what allows this sort of reimagining. In OCAC’s three MFA programs — MFA in Craft: Critical and Innovative Practice, MFA in Applied Craft and Design, and the new MFA in Industrial Design — students have the chance to join a learned community of makers and experience the intersection of historical analogue processes and advanced digital making. This dynamic investigation helps students navigate changes in technology, and provides them with a unique perspective on art and design that gives them an advantage in today’s market, enabling them to work in a wide range of areas from exhibition to manufacturing.

“We’re not just making new things,” says Burkheimer. “We’re reimagining design.”

Visit ocac.edu to learn more.