College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

IE students learn history of campus art manufacturing at Iowa State

Industrial engineering students in a solidification processes course learned about the mold making and casting processes used to create art for Iowa State’s campus.

Students enrolled in the industrial engineering course I E 348, instructed by Professor Frank Peters, attended a lecture in Morrill Hall to “gain another perspective of the processes and capabilities” that they learn about in class according to Peters. A secondary goal of the lecture is to help students appreciate the art on campus.

“I have students comment now that they will walk past a sculpture on campus and wonder what processes were used to create it,” Peters said.

Nancy Girard, Educator of Visual Literacy and Learning at the Iowa State University Museums, spoke to the students about the materials and techniques artists have used to create art displayed on campus. She explained that Iowa State has one of the largest campus collections of public art of any institute in the nation and that molds of art on campus are sometimes made as a security measure or as an educational process.

Girard said that artists often start with a model of their art to use as a proposal for the project as well as a visual reference in creating the final piece. The students were shown various examples of models and molds used by artists whose work can be seen on campus.

“Some students have different learning styles,” Peters said. “Seeing examples can help them visualize some of the processes we talk about in class.”

Artists sometimes employ early processes in reproducing art, according to Girard. One example was the pantograph, a tool that was invented in the 16th century for making enlarged copies that are exactly the same as the individual. The tool allows every detail of the original work to be replicated exactly and is still considered to be more accurate than digitally enlarging art by artists and foundries.

Girard said that the museum is always focused on maintaining the artist’s integrity in reproducing works and following ethical guidelines. Molds that are created at Iowa State are often marked or destroyed to prevent mass reproductions.