Art department seeks funding for 3-D printers

Alex Sandefur

The Department of Art plans to take sculpting to a new level with the help of 3-D printing.

The department, specifically the sculpture program, is seeking $1,500 from the Student Government Association for tools it needs to create artwork.

David Marquez, sculpting professor, wrote the proposal for the money, making the case for the new equipment and tools in the sculpting program.

“We need the money to get back to par with technology and tools needed to make art,” Marquez said.

According to the written proposal, the department proposed three different budgets to SGA. The first is the cheapest option of the three at just over $1,500. It includes a structure scanner that Marquez said would be used to scan objects that could be printed on a 3-D printer. Objects that have been printed can be used directly for a sculpture or can be used to create a mold to make pieces for a sculpture.

This budget also includes a laser engraving and cutting machine. Marquez says the sculptors will use this tool to cut material for their pieces.

The second budget is the most expensive of the three at almost $1,700 and only includes a laser engraving and cutting machine. Marquez said this machine is larger than the machine from the other two budgets.

The final budget is priced at about $1,550 and includes more tools than the other budgets. These include the structure sensor from the first budget and various tools students need like screwdrivers and a carving set.

Marquez says the head of the art department has already promised to allot $500 to the sculpture program if it is awarded the $1,500 from SGA. The League of Sculptors, an organization at WKU invested in supporting the art of sculpture, has also set aside approximately $250 from its own funds to contribute to the proposed budgets.

Duncan Underhill is one of the students in the sculpture program who went to propose the budgets to SGA. He is also the co-treasurer of the League of Sculptors.

“I think [the proposal] went well,” he said. “They asked a lot of questions. They seemed really interested.”

Underhill said he and the other members who attended last Tuesday’s SGA meeting were a little overwhelmed.

“We weren’t prepared for all the questions they asked,” he said. “They wanted to know how our program compared to other schools.”

The League of Sculptors members will give their final budget proposal to SGA today.

Hannah Johnston, the president of the League of Sculptors, said the new tools will help WKU sculptors compete with other sculpting students from other schools — Georgia State University, for example — that already have this technology.

“We go to a lot of exhibitions that are very competitive,” she said. “It’s a good way to show off our work and get out our name.”

Marquez said it is a good thing for students to go to these exhibitions and see how this technology would help them with their work.

“Students see this in action,” he said. “They know what it would do for us. It would expand our high-end resources.”

Marquez said this new equipment will help shift the sculpture program from using older, more traditional methods of sculpting to using newer methods that implement more advanced technology.

“We want to expand toward technology as opposed to traditional-based sculpting,” he said.