Texas A&M University
College of Engineering Zachry Engineering Education Complex
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
This piece is inspired by the moment of upheaval that architectural demolition brings. When the wrecking ball takes down a vintage building, those materials are thrown into chaos, lightened through the entropic release of force. For me, they change states and become a drawing medium where new forms arise from the dusty rubble.
By using wood as a drawing medium, this artwork can simultaneously exist between the physical (sculptural) and the imagined (drawn), playing with our comprehension of perceived and real space. That change in perspective and reconsideration of surroundings is a fundamental part of analytical thought in both the arts and sciences, whether through engineering systems or sculpture.
I search through the trash at construction sites to find lath, the strips of wood torn from plaster covered walls exposed during the renovation of older buildings. Using them as a drawing tool, I employ their inherent colors and textures to depict new forms that could appear to be simultaneously forming and disintegrating.
A common challenge in my process is finding enough colors and widths of the wood lath in various dumpsters around the city. I also need to collect the material within a short window of time before its buried under the next layer of trash to be dumped on top of it.
In many instances there is an overlap between art and engineering even though they can differ in many fundamental ways. Both art and engineering involve imagining and designing at a physical and conceptual level. Art has the advantage of existing without prescribed limitations, but much of it utilizes pre-existing parameters as a point of reference. Artists work within the ‘systems’ of painting or sculpture for example. There is a similarity in the way that engineering operates within its speciﬁc systems; i.e., electrical or mechanical.
Engineers and artists use creativity to elaborate and innovate within the rules of that system. Both need creative outside perspective to bring new ideas and thoughtful insight to society. Engineering is often focused on figuring out how to do something. That is a lot of what goes in an artists studio as well. So, in a way, there is a lot of ‘engineering’ involved in creating art and sometimes that effort can be the majority of the time and energy involved in making a work of art.