GREENVILLE — The arts festival that begins its 11th year this weekend has always filled downtown Greenville with the work of painters and sculptors, but something not human will join the crowd on Main Street this year: robots.
Clemson University’s exhibit at Artisphere will include two types of robots that draw, several activities and an announcement about a new partnership that could change how students learn at the university and beyond.
Visitors also will be able to see what they can build with common items, such as paper clips and cardboard tubes. Participants then will add their inventions to one continuously changing sculpture.
Clemson’s exhibit will be at Main and Broad streets and will be open regular festival hours May 8-10. All activities are free and open to the public.
The exhibit is part of an effort at Clemson and across the nation to ensure that the arts remain an important part of education as a growing number of students gravitate to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
In the exhibit’s main event, two university deans will announce the launch of the Clemson University STEAM network.
As part of the network, 32 faculty and staff members are coming together to find new ways of adding an “A” for the arts into the STEM mix.
It could mean new classes and study-abroad opportunities for Clemson students and programs that extend into the K-12 system. Some of those programs could involve the activities that Clemson will have at Artisphere.
Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering and Science, said that the arts can help inspire creativity and recruit a more diverse mix of students to engineering and the sciences.
“The intersection of art and STEM has a long history,” he said. “The Duomo cathedral in Florence, Italy, was so big and so important it helped start a whole new era of art and construction engineering. Doors created by Lorenzo Ghiberti represent great work of art that revolutionized metalwork.
“Likewise, Taj Mahal is considered both an artistic splendor and a civil engineering jewel.”
Rick Goodstein, dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, said that the arts help students develop empathy and creative thought.
“The arts not only help individuals lead richer, more well-rounded lives but also give them a competitive advantage,” he said. “Good leaders understand empathy, and creativity is crucial to innovation.
“The STEAM Network is an example of the creative collaboration between different areas of the university that is crucial to the success of our students, the university and the nation.”
Also at Clemson’s exhibit, the public can:
- Code “Scribbler Robots” to draw in an elevated sandbox
- Perform dance steps in real-life and then program an animated character to do the same
- Use audio files and a cell phone to draw with a robot
- See how light wavelengths affect pigment on fabric, M&M’s and other items
- Create a design with a web-based “morphing tool,” then print it to take home
- Admire the inspiring and powerful pictures that show science as art
- Learn about the Indigo Pine home students are creating from interlocking plywood
- Hear a sculptor describe how math and science are used to create 3D art
- Watch artists demonstrate printmaking and ceramic techniques used to create functional and sculptural art
“We’re glad to have Clemson’s STEAM exhibit back for another year of festival programming,” said Kerry Murphy, Artisphere’s executive director.
“Last year, it enhanced the patron experience by offering something that’s both innovative and unique. I’m looking forward to seeing the new slate of activities.”