Faculty research showcase opens in Borland Project Space

Stephanie Swindle
November 01, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State's College of Arts and Architecture Faculty Research Showcase is on display in the Borland Project Space from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. The exhibition highlights work by faculty members from different disciplines across the college and shares how each is creating new knowledge in unique ways.

This year’s participants include Brian Alfred (School of Visual Arts), Jennifer Birkeland (Stuckeman School, Department of Landscape Architecture), Felecia Davis (Stuckeman School, Department of Architecture), Marcus Shaffer (Stuckeman School, Department of Architecture) and Robin Thomas (Department of Art History). Each researcher will give a talk about his or her work in the Borland Project Space throughout the course of the exhibition. There will be a public reception from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29, in the Borland Project Space.

Brian Alfred, assistant professor of art, is best known for his collages, paintings, and digital animations with subject matter that ranges from architecture and technology to modern idealism and romantic heroism. His work examines how people's perception of their surrounding world and culture is mediated by technology. Through flattened and usually depopulated worlds of color reproduced in two-dimensional bold patterns, often derived from found images, Alfred’s works explore the effect public imagery has on individual perceptions of reality.

Jennifer Birkeland, visiting assistant professor of landscape architecture, presents her study of the symbolic relationship between plants and people with her project, “The Living Garment.” From representation of flora in art to the possibility of garments hosting plant life, Birkeland will present her research findings about the possibility for a symbiotic relationship to exist between wearer and live garment.

Felecia Davis, assistant professor of architecture, will display a 5-by-6-foot  computational textile pattern designed to provide both still and shape-changing textural experiences to visitors through sight and touch. Through her project, “FELT: Augmenting Shape Through Emotion,” Davis will share results from her study of aesthetics and perception in design and the potential for new computational material research.

Marcus Shaffer, associate professor of architecture, will display paintings, video, models, machine parts, historical imagery and book excerpts about his tectonic machines. His project, “Reconstituting the Master Builder: The Architect Enhanced Through Art, Poetry, Science, and Scholarship,” speaks to his role as a faculty member and adviser in the Department of Architecture’s Master of Science program, Material and Process Research Cluster. He and his students have begun to study and co-opt the working methods, productions and funding practices of scientists and artists as means of reconstituting the “Master Builder.”

Robin Thomas, associate professor of art history, spent his 2015-16 sabbatical in the archives in and around Naples, Italy, and is writing the first comprehensive study of the royal residences of Charles of Bourbon at Capodimonte, Portici and Caserta. His project, “Palaces of Reason,” argues that ideas of the Enlightenment transformed the concept of the palace. His research method requires him to look at paper to understand the bricks and stone.


Researcher Dialogues

Wednesday, Nov. 2, 12-1 p.m.

Jennifer Birkeland and Felecia Davis

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 12-1 p.m.

Brian Alfred and Marcus Shaffer

Friday, Nov. 11, 12-1 p.m.

Robin Thomas


Tuesday, Nov. 29, 4:30-6:00 p.m.

  • Felecia Davis portrait

    Felecia Davis will present "“FELT: Augmenting Shape Through Emotion.”

    IMAGE: Stephanie Swindle
  • Marcus Shaffer portrait

    Marcus Shaffer will present, "“Reconstituting the Master Builder: The Architect Enhanced Through Art, Poetry, Science, and Scholarship.”

    IMAGE: Stephanie Swindle
  • Jennifer Birkeland portrait

    Jennifer Birkeland will present “The Living Garment.”

    IMAGE: Cody Goddard
  • Robin Thomas Portrait

    Robin Thomas will present "Palaces of Reason."

    IMAGE: Stephanie Swindle
  • Brian Alfred portrait

    Brian Alfred's work examines how people's perception of their surrounding world and culture is mediated by technology.

    IMAGE: Brian Alfred
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Last Updated November 02, 2016