Artist and RIAS Scholar Tina Piracci Merges Art with Technology

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Choosing a college major can be a stressful experience, but for art major Tina Piracci, choosing a field of study did not mean abandoning her other interests. Originally a Biology major, Piracci is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture and Extended Media alongside a minor in Entrepreneurship and certificates in Engineering and Digital Fabrication, and Visualization Design.

She keeps her love of science alive by embracing new technologies through her approach to art. As a recipient of the 2016 Research in Arts Scholarship (RIAS), she went to Paris as a part of the School of Art and Art History's Summer Art Program.

Currently, she is working on the creation of her RIAS research project entitled "The Beauty Rubric." She will present her project at the Research in Arts Scholars Opening Reception on November 10, and her artwork from the project will be exhibited in the library for an entire year.

"The Beauty Rubric" alludes to the Parisian architecture that captured Piracci's attention on her study abroad trip. By referencing Vitruvius's The Ten Books on Architecture, she plans to explore the constructed nature of beauty through the exhibition of a handmade eight-foot-tall ionic column.

Piracci rejects the false dichotomy between fine art and science. She believes that it is important to link the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) with art.

"That's why I am trying to make those connections with Vitruvius and DaVinci and the research project because it's not just one side of your brain, and that whole theory has been proven false," said Piracci. "To try to make art about that would be ideal for me."

In her practice, Piracci is particularly interested in 3D printing sculptures. The capabilities of 3D printing and the conceptual additions that the technology allows add to her unique approach to art.
"Instead of directly making an object, I find other tools that I can use," said Piracci. "And technology, I feel, has become my strongest tool."

3D printing opens up a new world of design possibilities. Piracci's 2016 brass infill 3-D printed sculpture, "Don't Wake Gala", which won The Salvador's Digital Sculpture Contest in St Petersburg, is an example of a sculpture that she would not have made ordinarily without the use of 3D printing. With the digital file of a sculpture, she can duplicate works again and again. To learn more about Piracci's winning piece "Don't Wake Gala," see her appearance on Daytime.

Piracci says that 3D printing helps her figurative approach to her art by allowing her to reference objects that an audience can recognize. By taking photos of objects in the real world, she can accurately depict the real world for the viewer and, in some cases, borrow from other artists to embrace the concept of "stolen" art.

While technology brings creative possibilities to her art, the process is not without its challenges.

"Making things with clay is so much easier," said Piracci.

But the challenges are what drive her practice. As an artist who learns and works alongside engineers in the Design for X Lab in the College of Engineering, she frequently encounters obstacles that stump the engineers and are unique to the world of 3D-printed art making.

"With every new project I have, it's typically an entirely new process that I've never done before," said Piracci, "which is also a problem I have because it ends up being really difficult and discouraging for a long time, but then, eventually, it works out. It's really great to have a completed work."

Despite the tribulations, Piracci remains committed to her approach to sculpture. She has attained valuable experience during her time at the College of The Arts and has been able to shape her degree to suit her needs, such as by having engineering classes act as part of her studio work. With only one more semester left to go, she approaches art more confidently than ever.

"I think Paris taught me that it's no longer about trying to make something with 'can I make this?' in mind ... It is now a question of 'what do I want to do?'" said Piracci.

Piracci will present her research project at the Research in Arts Scholars Opening Reception. The reception will be held in room 210 of the library on Thursday, November 10 at 4 pm. Her project, "The Beauty Rubric," along with the projects of eight other RIAS scholars, will be exhibited in the library for one year.

To learn more about Piracci and other 2016 RIAS scholars, visit the Research in Arts Scholarship webpage.