Students haven’t been shy about letting us know their wish to have more access to the Maker Studio. We are so pleased to announce that the Maker Studio will now offer extended hours for the rest of the Winter 2019 semester. This means students, faculty, staff, and the Calgary community will have more opportunities to drop in to use our large selection of cutting, sewing, and hand tools, as well as the supporting software that is often accessed for assignments, final projects, and general class instruction.
As of this Sunday, February 3, the Maker Studio will now be open from Monday to Friday 10:00am-5:00pm and Sundays 12pm-4pm. Please check the Library calendar for general hours and for any changes due to holidays, closures, etc.
A Librarian from the University of Arkansas and a visual artist from Montreal will spend two weeks working on a project in the MRU Library Maker Studio that is meant to conjure questions with no definite answers—It’s all part of the fun.
What is art? What is art worth? How should we access it?
These are some of the questions Marianne R. Williams and Frédéric Bigras-Burrogano hope attendees of their upcoming exhibit ponder. The two make up Long Distance Call, a collective that is a member of the Wreck City artist residency. The Wreck City Public Exhibition kicks off in Marda Loop this weekend and the duo are busy taking found objects and recreating them using equipment in the Maker Studio.
A corkscrew and empty perfume bottle found in the streets of Marda Loop, and a fork from a restaurant in the area are either being reproduced with the help of a 3D printer or revamped with a laser cutter. Williams and Burrogano invite members of the community to attend the exhibit, engage with this found art, and offer money or exchange for a piece to take home.
“People can offer a price, an item of their own to trade, or simply answer a few questions to keep a piece,” says Williams who explains that it’s not about the money, it’s about allowing the public to question and consider the process of bartering and how art is consumed. It’s also a conscious way to make art accessible to everyone.
Wreck City was founded in 2013 as an independent collective that organizes experimental contemporary art exhibitions in pre-demolition spaces throughout Calgary. This multi-venue exhibition, which takes place July 27 – August 12, falls in line with this mandate as the Long Distance Call exhibit will be hosted at a site in Marda Loop that will soon be an area of construction where a 70-unit residential and retail building will be located.
Williams and Burrogano say the exhibit is meaningful in that it allows their work to be part of a larger conversation around gentrification, conservation and how we respond to space surrounding us. They acknowledge that a project like this wouldn’t be possible without the support of the development company that’s allowing the artists to utilize the area before construction begins and a key resource close by that gives them a space to fully realize their vision.
“This project couldn’t have been possible without this Maker Studio. It’s the best one in the city and everyone here has been so welcoming,” says Burrogano.
Maker Studio Specialist, Kerry Harmer graciously receives the duo’s gratitude but makes a point to acknowledge how she’s able to push the boundaries of the year old space with diverse projects.
“Having artists in the Maker Studio is a learning experience for Maker Studio staff because artists push the technologies to their limits in order to achieve experimental and unexpected outcomes,” explains Harmer. “This kind of experimentation allows us to learn about our tools with the artist.”
At the end of this week, Burrogano will go back home to Montreal and Williams will head to Fayetteville where she works as a Librarian-in-Residence at the University of Arkansas. Williams has conducted research on information literacy, diversity, and inclusion.
The Long Distance Call exhibit will play off the standard garage sale model and will take place at 2240 33 Avenue SW, this Friday, July 27 at 7pm. Money collected through sales will be donated to an organization in the community.
Mitchell George and Cal New are self professed gamers. They love connecting with friends over elaborate board game nights or they may try out the newest video game. Ask them about the gaming industry and they will speak to the changing trends and direction it’s going towards with ease. Knowing this makes their current initiative of creating a custom board game they hope to manufacture an obvious next step.
It doesn’t currently have a name but the duo has ironed out the general concept of their board game after New came up with the idea over a year ago. He quickly made his idea tangible by designing geometric game pieces with cardboard and pencil crayons. This helped to literally get the idea on paper but they needed a better quality prototype to be taken seriously and appeal to investors.
George, a 4th year Child Studies and Social Work student, had walked by the Maker Studio on the main floor of the MRU Library many times and finally decided to step inside and get an informal tour of the space. This helped him realize that all the tools he needed to create a professional version of his game were on campus.
”It was an opportunity to take this one step farther, there’s a difference between the plastic and the cardboard”, says George who used one of three 3D printers available to students, faculty and staff in the Maker Studio to create the latest prototype. “To be able to take that step and make your own game with an actual game board and pieces, it’s a dream for some. We now have a board game and it didn’t even take long. “
New and George acknowledge they have a lot to learn and do before they can launch a Kickstarter campaign that will help them finish the design elements and initiate production, but 3D printing goods is a common initial step experienced entrepreneurs and the manufacturers take due to the technology’s accessibility.
“What you have here is absolutely the design process where you make your first prototype and then you iterate that into a different material,” explains Maker Studio Specialist Kerry Harmer while seated near the printer she helped George and New use to elevate their creation. “That’s the whole process of a makerspace, that is what 3D printing is for. You can test things out, it’s inexpensive, and it’s quick.”
George spends his days studying human behaviour as part of his degree and also works with a not-for-profit catered to at risk transient youth. Though he loves his work and student life, George admits it can be very taxing; bringing this game to life is a creative outlet he often seeks out when he needs a break. At heart he’s a storyteller with a background in filmmaking. He struggled to decide whether to dedicate his post secondary studies to film or working with children, but in the end he says he’s happy with his decision to pursue child studies and this board game has been a reminder of how he can use his passion to inform his studies and future career.
”My biggest release is art so I want to make the two disciplines work together”, says George. “Many of these youths are told their stories aren’t important. I advocate that they should tell their stories, whether that’s through making a board game, shooting a film, or writing a book.”
We are excited to share that the Maker Studio will move into its permanent space this week!
Library staff members are packing boxes and arranging furniture to move the Maker Studio down the hall to EL1245 (behind the Service Desk). The larger and central space on the main floor of the RLLC will allow us to showcase even more cutting edge equipment and accommodate way more students, faculty, staff, and community members. We’re already working on programming for workshops that will allow attendees to learn a new skill and try out some of the latest design software.
The Maker Studio will be closed June 13 and 14 to allow for the move. Your patience is appreciated. We can’t wait to welcome everyone to the new studio.