USF Art Alumna Tina Piracci Studies Environmental Design at UC Berkeley

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Tina Piracci, a USF alumna of the School of Art and Art History, is a candidate for the master of architecture degree at the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkley.

Her decision to pursue a graduate degree in architecture follows her past achievements merging art with technology during her time at USF.

Piracci was introduced to UC Berkley when she reached out to UC Berkley Professor of Architecture Ron Rael, one of her favorite contemporary artists at the time, and visited the College of Environmental Design.

Rael’s practice utilizes “upcycling” of waste materials such as grape skins and rubber tires to create new, innovative building materials. He also uses 3D printing to create coral substrate to restore coral reef habitats and birdhouses to restore bird species in decline.

“For me, this widened the possibilities within architecture and inspired me to change my application to their architecture and environmental design master’s program,” said Piracci in an email. “I am happy to say I am now a researcher for Ron and produce these objects with various types of printing.”

In the summer, Piracci hopes to intern for Oikonos, the conservation organization she and members of the Rael team produce ceramic birds nest for. Through direct observation of birds using the 3D printed nests, she hopes to gather data to become a better designer of their homes. She also wants to spend her summer building handmade ceramic nests at the California College of the Arts.

Piracci’s current position as a candidate at Berkley’s environmental design college is a combination of her diverse and interrelated interests. She originally came to USF as a STEM major. Once she changed her major to art, she established a connection to science through a technology-based practice.

She maintains this connection in graduate school to further prepare for an innovative and interdisciplinary career.

“Though I often feel like I am struggling to balance my interests between school and work, I feel that all of my interests are finally coming together,” said Piracci.

At the USF School of Art and Art History, Piracci had the chance to explore art as well as other fields.

With a concentration in sculpture and extended media for her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, she was able to experiment with all kinds of ways of making art, especially ones involving technology such as 3D printing. She was able to adapt her program to fit the needs of her practice, even taking engineering classes for her studio classes.

In 2017, Piracci completed a 9-feet-tall polar style clay 3D printer she built as part of her undergraduate thesis. She decided to build her own 3D printer after realizing the size limitations of other printers. Her project was supported by generous help from the USF engineering department.

Piracci graduated with a minor in entrepreneurship, a certificate in visualization and design and a certificate in electrical engineering, digital design and the arts.

Outside of academics, she was active in student organizations that aligned with her interests. Piracci served as president of the College of The Arts Council and vice president of the Lil Muddies ceramics club.

She leaves behind the 3D Printing Club and Sculpture Club, two student organizations she served as founder and president, as well as Art Walk, an annual event of artists and vendors running in conjunction with the School of Art and Art History’s Art House open house event.

Piracci looks forward to applying her knowledge to better the environment.

“Before being an art major, I was a biology major, so it will be satisfying to be able to monitor the science aspect of the restorative habitats,” said Piracci. “As for after school, I plan to somehow continue this type of restorative work and continue to research how 3-D printing can better the environment.”