PDF Version of Press Release

Advances in 3D printing have been creating quite the buzz recently, with the ability to print items as varied as edible chocolate and concrete houses becoming a reality. But how does all the hype and excitement relate to the visual arts, where artists are still using centuries-old, if not millennia-old, techniques and materials to convey their ideas?

The Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) is pleased to present a survey exhibition that offers answers to that question. Beyond the Buzz: New Forms, Realities, and Environments in Digital Fabrication assembles the work of 26 local, national, and international artists whose embrace of digital fabrication methods demonstrates how the means and forms of art production have forever changed. Innovation also knows no age in this growing artistic field, as some of the artists were born in the 1980s alongside the emerging cyber world, while others were born three, four, or even five decades earlier.


Event Details

Exhibition: January 20-March 1, 2015
Reception: Friday, January 23, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Where: Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Artist Panel Discussion: 5:00-6:00 p.m., Auditorium 150
Michael Rees Artist Talk: Tuesday, February 17, 1:00 p.m. Auditorium 150

MCAD Gallery Hours:
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.


A large part of the “buzz” around 3D printing technology centers on the new accessibility of the software and machines. They are becoming easier to use and less expensive to purchase. Although some of the pieces, such as Sharon Engelstein’s ginormous inflatable Tethertwin, require collaboration with a manufacturer to ultimately fabricate, others, such as Luke Aleckson’s digitized car accident debris, is made with MakerBot, a consumer desktop 3D printer. To be working at the crossroads of computing and art production still requires training or at least a large dose of DIY determination, but it is no longer rare; it has become commonplace and an indispensable means of broadening creative possibilities.

All of the artwork included in Beyond the Buzz was made initially with a computer-aided 3D design or modeling (CAD/CAM) program. But the ultimate output of those digital files is incredibly varied and flexible. The data visualization work of Mary Bates Neubauer, for example, can be produced as 2D imagery, sculptural form, surface maps, animations, and public art. The precision of computer numerical control (CNC) laser cutters and routers makes possible the intricate marquetry furniture of Christy Oates, the natural forms and rich textures of Andrew Werby’s sculpture, and the meticulous geometries of Richard Elaver’s paper constructions and Michael DeLucia’s laminated plywood panels.

Thanks to the additive production technique of 3D printing—where forms are built up layer by layer— objects that would have been impossible to conceive of, let alone produce, are now feasible. Sometimes the printed forms are the final product, as with Joshua Harker’s Crania Anatomica Filigre, Keith Brown’s Geo_04, or Shane Hope’s expressionist sculptural reliefs. But other times the rapid prototypes are the means to another end. For Do Ho Suh and Richard Dupont, for example, a mold was made from the 3D printed nylon prototype and the final casting was realized in solid bronze.

Digital technologies continually blur perceptions of the real and virtual. By employing 3D mapping technology, David Bowen captures the movement of waves and ripples of Lake Superior at a specific time and location, and Helena Lukasova “performs” the virtual modeling of her own body as an animation and 3D print. Michael Rees and Christopher Manzione have been experimenting with augmented reality, which requires visitors to use an iPad or smartphone app to activate a QR code and complete the viewing experience.

Materially, formally, and conceptually, digitally fabricated works of art are pushing the boundaries of what is possible. And the end results are unknown. In this world, what starts off as a unique object can become a commercially produced toy. These imaginative objects and images vacillate between the natural and the mechanical, the grotesque and the sublime, the humorous and the elegant, and the minuscule and the enormous. The artists employing these tools and materials are continuing to do what art has done from the beginning—expressing just what it might mean to be human.

Participating artists include: Luke Aleckson, Dave Beck, David Bowen, Keith Brown, Michael DeLucia, Richard Dupont, Richard Elaver, Sharon Engelstein, Joshua Harker, Shane Hope, Jon Isherwood, Brad Jirka, Helena Lukasova, Christopher Manzione, Don Myhre, Mary Bates Neubauer, John Newman, Christy Oates, Michael Rees, Robert Michael Smith, Do Ho Suh, Dan Tesene, Elona Van Gent, Andrew Vomhof, Andrew Werby, and Corinne Whitaker.

Curated by Brad Jirka, sculpture professor, Don Myhre, 3D shop director, and Kerry Morgan, director of gallery and exhibition programs.