3D Printing Enhances Art History Education at FIU


The addition of 3D printers to the FIU Art + Art History Digital Media Laboratory has been one step for FIU towards the direction of being a modern, innovative institution.

“Desktop 3D printing is changing the way we think, work, and create things, and FIU is taking the lead in unlocking the creative potential of this transformative technology to art students,” said Jonathan Jaglom (CEO of Makerbot) at the opening of the Makerbot-filled CARTA Innovation Lab at The College of Architecture + The Arts | Miami Beach Urban Studios.

The FIU Art + Art History Department has pushed the limits of this new, creative realm. Adjunct Lecturer of Art History M. Stephanie Chancy worked with Department Chair Jacek Kolasinski to 3D print a replica of a famous artifact. Chancy approached Ricardo Lugo, the Digital Media Laboratory Supervisor, who completed the task of printing the Venus of Willendorf, a four-and-a-half-inch statuette that was carved about 25,000 years ago and that is housed in the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna. Lugo used a 3D printing file from the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins Program.

Chancy now possesses an exact replica of the Venus of Willendorf. Chancy and interested students can now view this 3D printed replica of the original. Otherwise, to closely study the original, FIU faculty and students would have to travel over 5,000 miles to see it in Vienna. With the help of 3D printing, FIU students can examine every curve and detail of the Venus of Willendorf.

“3D prints allow the art historian to bring the pieces into the classroom,” said Chancy, “enabling students to observe details – like size and decorative elements – that they might not notice in an image reproduced in a book or one projected on-screen. Understanding an artwork’s context and function is enhanced when you can look at it from every angle and see everything.”

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