Sage’s Art + Design Technology Center Fueling Inspiration and Collaboration

The new Art + Design Technology Center at Sage College of Albany combines a Mac lab with heavy equipment like a MakerBot 3-D printer, laser-cutter and large format printers.

“Just thinking in 3-D has me working differently in animation,” said Ben Exterkamp ’14, who – after experimenting with the MakerBot and open-source software that support 3-D design – presented to several Graphic + Media Design classes about using the resources in the Technology Center for personal and class assignments.

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Ben Exterkamp ’14 used the Art + Design Technology Center’s MakerBot and open-source software to create heads inspired by artist Chuck Close’s large scale portraits. Exterkamp then used the heads in an animation featured in the 10th annual Bachelor of Fine Arts exhibition at the Opalka Gallery and at BenExterkamp.com/chuck-close.

“So much of art and design involves technology or it can add another level to your process,” said Mindy McDaniel, coordinator of the Technology Center, describing how the center serves students across the visual arts.

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Interior Design students draft projects in AutoCAD and use the laser-cutter to carve their designs out of mat board. They then use the cutouts to assemble physical models of buildings and rooms. Printmaking students use the laser-cutter to etch woodblocks; Graphic + Media Design students use the laser-cutter to design packaging; and photography students experimented with etching photographs into wood.

McDaniel has an MFA in photography and works as a sculptor. “Because I create sculptural work, I am familiar with a range of materials. Much of my job is brainstorming with students, and as a working artist, I understand what they are going through in their creative process. I enjoy helping them bring their ideas to physical form,” she said.

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Prospective students touring campus are always drawn to the Technology Center when the equipment is going – and it almost always is. “High school students know what a computer lab looks like and what students are doing in front of a computer. They want to see – and we can show them – something else,” said McDaniel. Even on a “quiet” Friday afternoon this spring, the center was busy assisting Sage students who stopped by to borrow photo, video and sound equipment for the weekend.

Now that the Technology Center has been up and running for a full academic year McDaniel and Professor of Graphic + Media Design Matthew McElligott are working to more fully integrate the Center’s resources with the curriculum – in Art + Design and campus-wide – and to organize open-to-the public events. “We have a draft plan, and things are starting to progress on their own,” said McDaniel. “We are trying to stay one step ahead.”

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Sage offers access to the MakerBot, laser-cutter and large-format, archival-quality printing at prices – and on timelines – that are competitive with commercial businesses, and artists remain in control of their art at every stage. Alumni are welcome to contact Sage to discuss using the Art + Design Technology Center for their own projects.