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Coloring Outside the Lines

Kath Weider-Roos is the Creative Arts Producer at A&D. She snaps photos and asks questions.

Coloring books.

Granted, they are not what you fantasize about when you think about art school. Neither are they an obvious place to start when approaching a lesson in abstraction and conceptual thinking.

Yet, (somewhat to the dismay of his freshman students) this is exactly how Ed West began his  CFC (Concept, Form & Context) class this winter – by handing out coloring books and a fresh pack of crayons.

“My dad, who wasn't crazy about the idea of art school in the first place, was mad when he heard about what we were doing,” said freshman Della Paul. Other students thought it was a demeaning exercise, and protested that they were being treated ‘like children.'
“I always get some resistance when I first start this exercise,” Ed admits.

The students, and even Della's father, eventually grasped Ed’s point – that nothing is too mundane to be a source for creative ideas. As Ed sees it, this class is a journey from representation to abstraction – why not start with our earliest experience of representation?

Summed up, the journey looks something like this:

Sit down with your crayons and a stack of coloring books. Enjoy the soft, cozy pleasure of not having to think.
And then... start thinking.
Start looking.
Start asking questions about what you see.
Start responding to assumptions.
Experiment. Play.

Synthesize.

So, after the coloring, came a series of exercises that gradually moved farther and farther away from the conventional use of coloring books.

The first exercise asked students to work with representation, but mix it up through collage. For example, an exquisite corpse:




Gradually, the collages became more abstract...like this one from Mary Rountree,

Charlie Naebeck, who clearly remembers those Spiderman days,

and Sarah Banks Uffelman...

 

Questions are posed: The plane of a coloring book is flat – does it have to be?

Below, Della Paul and Travis Reilly respond to this question...




Next comes looking at the lines. Coloring books are basically line drawings: what do you see? How can you experiment with line?

Sol Park begins mark-making around an action figure...


In fact, if you look really closely at the lines of coloring books, you'll notice lines showing through from "the b-side", as in this image below:

To really see this, Ed had the students put the pages up against the window so they could trace all the lines, including those that showed through from the other side.

Stephanie Love's tracing produced this lovely result:





Using a projector, the students experimented with scale.

Mary Rountree enlarged her window tracing to create this...

then enlarged it further to create this....

which finally, became this...




This window line drawing...



got shredded...

and transformed into this final piece by Sara Banks Uffelman.


 


And so on.

Below are more final responses to the coloring book assignment. It's safe to say that all of the students ended up in a place they never could have predicted when they first sat down with their crayons.

For Ed, the final destination is not the main point – it's learning how to travel without a map. 

 

Ellis Mikelic

 

Sol Park

Della Paul

 

Charlie Naebeck

 

 

Charlie Naebeck


 

views {on Sophomore Re} views

Making review a terror or a triumph

Teshia Treuhaft is currently chained to her desk documenting the process of surviving senior year at A&D and her obsession with wood veneer.

        The past few weeks the Society of Art Students (“SAS” A&D’s Student Government) has been trying hard to think of good ways to help the sophomores prepare for their sophomore reviews in April.

        For those who dont know, Sophomore review is a process that each student at A&D goes through at the end of their fourth semester at Michigan to review their progress and get feedback on their work to date. It works as a check-in and is an excellent opportunity for the student to speak about their work as a whole, meet some new professors and be critiqued. It is a rite of passage and can be either eye-opening or terrifying depending on your perspective.

        This past week SAS hosted a sophomore review panel made up of juniors and seniors willing to share their experiences and insight. For those of you who couldn’t be in on the conversation – we’ve put together a little cheat sheet.

Here are both sides of the issue from Claire Liburdi (a little freaking out) and myself (a little advice). 

Claire Liburdi is a sophomore at A&D. She aspires to someday be a graphic designer or printmaker, and to study abroad in Italy. Claire enjoys feeding squirrels and baking delicious foods. Her fears include heights, sophomore review, and dolls.

 

        I’m thrilled to think that I’ll be taking stock of my work and understanding the directions I might take in the near future. It’s like I’m Harry Potter with the sorting hat, but my reviewers will suggest sculpture or furniture design instead of Gryffindor or Slytherin. Except there’s no magic or fame or tomfoolery.

At the same time, the phrase “Sophomore Review” on its own makes my heart jump. I’m terrified. When I start to really think about it, all sorts of questions keep me up at night.

What have I done in the past two years?

What am I doing with my life?

What does an artist’s resume even look like?

What happens if I forget the charming, hugely intelligent presentation I prepare for my reviewers?

What if, during the presentation, the projector falls on my head and I’m knocked unconscious? Does that cut into my 30 minutes?

What if I use that trick of picturing your audience in their underwear and I can’t stop laughing?

 

I’m having a mid-undergraduate-art-student-life crisis over here, so I am in the process of compiling a list of the things I have to do before April 18:

1) Organize images.

I estimate that approximately 90% of my work from the past two years has been documented in some way. Now, my challenge is to put them all in the same place, sift through them, analyze patterns, and put the pictures in order.

2) Update my resume.

Condensing my life into one page is going to be difficult since I tend to be all over the map with extracurriculars. I also need to redesign it to reflect my skills as an aspiring graphic designer. No pressure.

3) Statement

This is where I discuss where I’ve been and where I’m going. My statement is currently saved on my computer with the following content: “AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH WRITE SOMETHING CLAIRE!!!!!” I have great hope that my statement will improve after reviewing my images.

4) Meet with John Luther.

What am I doing with my life, John?

5) Presentation

Goal: chill out and don’t talk too fast.

I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

 

Teshia Treuhaft is a senior at A&D. She aspires to someday be a furniture designer, and has studied abroad in Italy. Teshia enjoys making google docs and trying to calm the nerves of sophomores about their reviews.  Her fears include finishing her IP project on time and under budget. 

1) Consider Organizing around trends, not necessarily around timeline or materials.

            The best way that I have seen students prepare is to gather EVERYTHING. If you gather every project you have, you can begin to sort through and look at a developing body of work, not a collection of projects for classes. Do you have a collection of graphic design projects or a collection of projects that all center on a certain trend? Maybe the work does center on a material exploration (veneer and bent wood anyone?) – then be honest about that. Think critically about how to present your work in a way that is logical. Sometimes these will follow chronologically, but if they don’t, it is your job to reorganize as you see fit.

            If you can’t see these trends or things aren’t fitting together as well as you’d hoped – ASK A THIRD PARTY. Make it easy for them and show them a photo dump (such as a one-project-a-slide PowerPoint) and ask them to focus on the content not the quality of photography (that can be improved later). (SAS will be organizing an open house to do this later this month.) Second, explain your work to someone prior to getting up in front of the review board. If they can point out even one moment of confusion in your explanation, you have improved your presentation ten-fold and avoided a potentially lengthy discussion about clarification and will be able to get to the meat of your work faster.

2) Tell your story (succinctly)

            Don't count on your reviewers being acquainted with your work-- lots of time students and faculty are meeting for the first time. When you tell you story, it is your responsibility to present as full a picture of your background and how it has fed into your work as possible in a very short amount of time. Draw in personal experiences. Are you considering a minor to fuel your creative work? Do you love baroque architecture? Have you studied abroad somewhere that affected your work? Pick and choose your moments but tell them about yourself and your experiences and think critically about how these experiences have affected the work you have created.

3) Don’t prepare by thinking about what OTHERS will ask, prepare by thinking about YOU.

            Consider your work; don’t spend a lot of time anticipating what you will be asked because you are leading the discussion. The best way to prepare is to have thought a lot about yourself and take charge of the presentation. The reviewers will have their moment to respond but they will only have what you have given them to go on – so prepare enough that your reviewer’s response is well informed and an interesting conversation can develop that will be helpful to you. When you have the pleasure of having three smart people who are passionate about art and design in a room with you, use it to your advantage.

4) Don’t think a bad project makes a bad review.

Show something that isn’t your best if you learned something profound and you can speak to that. This is done with caution, because you want to spin it in a way that it adds something to your narrative. Maybe it pairs with a subsequent piece that was more successful as a result of what you learned. Make sure the story about it makes sense with your presentation, It can be powerful and very mature to share with your panel how a failure pushed you farther than a successful piece.

In addition consider the following,

Before

Research your review panel. It’s unnecessary (and not advised) to stalk them in the hallways of A&D, but you should attempt to understand their perspective just as you they will be attempting to understand yours.

Be on time. (Duh…. But really)

Consider If there are any pieces you want to show in person (and if you need a friend to help transport them.)

Dress professionally and comfortably (but don’t get that confused with boring. These are artists and designers, they value a distinct aesthetic.)

During

Bring a notebook to write notes.

Soak in what is being said. Be present in the conversation, even when you aren’t saying anything.

Ask for clarification if you don’t understand someone’s comment.

Thank your reviewers; they are doing you a favor by offering to share your brain space. 

After

If reviewers suggest artists / books / pieces to look at – DO IT. Likewise, if there is a professor that really hit the nail on the head and gave you good suggestions, ask them for more via a polite, follow-up e-mail.

Relax and reflect on the experience. 

 

And, finally, look out for more SAS-sponsored Sophomore Review events to help you prepare!


 

Design for Social Change

Collaborating with students from Detroit Community Schools

Nick is an Associate Professor at A&D and a public performer whose work is rooted in the social lives of public places.

Last fall, I taught the first of what I hope is a regular class and partnership between the School of Art & Design, the Center for Entrepreneurship, and a community school in the Brightmoor neighborhood in Detroit. The class uses the principles of human centered design to develop art and design projects that will impact the community in a positive way.

Let me try to give a concrete example to illustrate the meaning of human centered design and why it is essential for a collaboration like this.

Think of an object you use habitually—a chair, shoes, a wallet. Each of these has a recognizable and designated function. I don’t know about you, but my wallet doesn’t always work for me, and so I stuff receipts, bits of paper, business cards and other ephemera in my more capacious pockets. The chairs, they’re OK, but I find myself, like right now, sitting on the floor. 

Think then not of a chair but of asking someone what they do or need when they sit. Not of a wallet, but of how someone spends their day, what they need access to, when and how much of it.

This kind of problem solving is called human centered design.  The human centered design approach recognizes that better design solutions come from asking more questions, and getting to know a person, a place, or a situation before developing an idea.

So when we began our class with Detroit Community Schools (DSC) last fall, we began by getting to know one another. Through conversations, interviews, field trips, working side by side and sharing life journeys, the students from A&D and the students from DCS began to understand one another not as archetypes or ideals, but as complex individuals with insights and aspirations, needs and assets.

The projects we concocted together – a mobile pizza oven, a line of solar-powered bicycle lights, a shoe design workshop – are essentially all prototypes; trial balloons that we launched, together, to see how they fly.

The class is over now, but the hope is to set up an ongoing design-build program with DCS as its hub, and the School of Art & Design as a partner. Along the way, we are contributing to a movement within our school to develop links with experiential education, the community and the classroom, to generate hands on projects that link public and civic action.

Here’s a glimpse into our collaboration with the Brightmoor community, as told by the A&D design teams: 

 

 

Mobile Pizza Oven

Team; Nairi Bagdasarian, Chris MacKenzie, Ran Li, Alana Hoey, Allyson Zelinski, Vaishu Ilankamban

After spending time talking with the Brightmoor students and seeing all the amazing gardens and spaces that have been cropping up in the neighborhood, our team wanted to come up with a design project that combined the two.
We designed this mobile pizza oven for the students.
The pizza oven is an after school activity, but it’s also a way to learn about cooking and build relationships with local people doing urban farming. (Basil and tomatoes for the sauce!)
Our hope is that the mobile pizza oven will not only be an after school activity, but also turn into a great business venture for the students.

Shoe Design Workshops

Team: Zack Moscot, Jennifer Silverstein, Neil Zemba, Methula Naik, Daniel Gold

Talking with the students got us inspired to create a project that would bring together the students' interest in athletics and art and design.
Neil Zemba, one of our team members, had been a winner of the NIKE Shoe Design Competition.
We decided to do a series of workshops called 'Design Your Sneaker' that would introduce students to the skills they would need to create a design that they could enter into the 2012 NIKE competition.
The workshops were designed to also raise awareness around potential career opportunities and spark motivation for further education in an area of interest.
Our hope is that there could be many hands-on workshops in different fields between students from Detroit Community Schools and the University of Michigan. This kind of mentoring helps to disentangle the complex web of perceptions and apprehensions that students seemed to have about college.

Solar-Powered Bike Lights

Team: James Reich, Sunny Kim, Oleg Kolbasov, Stephanie Schutter, Lara Slotnick

After talking to the students and learning more about life in Brightmoor, we heard a general consensus that the young people feel unsafe in their neighborhoods at night because there are no street lamps.
Our response was to create a low-cost lighting system that the students could create themselves out of recycled materials.
We decided to create these solar powered bike lights because the students also felt stuck in the neighborhood and this would empower their mobility.
After a series of workshops, the students had enough skills in soldering, electronics, solar power and craft to create these solar lights on their own.
The students were engaged and excited, and seemed so proud to be working on something as new and complex as solar lighting.
The total cost for making each light is $2.10.


 

The Beatles without John Lennon

Discovering the power of the image through Photoshop

Kath Weider-Roos is the Creative Arts Producer at A&D. She snaps photos and asks questions.

This image is slightly mind-bending the way it plays tricks with time and history. And, god, it even makes me want to cry! It does all this without using any original art work or words.

What it does use is...Photoshop.

The image was created by a freshman, Chelsea Noel. This is her response to an assignment in Seth Ellis' class, Digital Studio 1, a required course for all A&D students on the fundamentals of digital tools such as Photoshop. Seth's goal in this class was to figure out a way to teach the technical fundamentals of the program while also teaching students about the power of visual communication.

“It is a foundation course after all, " he says. "Drawing is essentially about learning how to look. Photoshop, as a tool for making and manipulating images, can also prompt students into really looking at visual information and examing how meaning is created."

The assignment above asked students to choose an image and then, using a method of erasure, alter the image in a way that significantly changes the meaning of the original.

Coincidentally, Marlene Lacasse also chose to extract a Beatle from Abbey Road. Together these images could set off another fire storm about which Beatle was most important. (Seth has no idea why this image would be hitting a chord with the young people.)

 

Here's another striking extraction by Hayley Tanisijevich:

I noticed how, even without the central figure, the painting still seems somehow 'pained'.

Here's an even more ominous use of Photoshop by Holly Prouty. Look how easily and perfectly the effects of pollution were erased:

 

In an act of mercy, perhaps, Samantha Balyeat chose to erase "Hiroshima bombers" from these men's resumés:

Here's the original:

 

 

Assignment Two: Insertion

So, "erasure" required students to get familiar enough with Photoshop to use the texture and clone tools, among others. In another exercise, Seth asked the students to alter an exisiting image through insertion.

Marlene Lacasse's insertion effectively depletes all terror from Yves Klein’s famous photo, “Leap into Void”:


 

The image below is actually of this School of Art & Design back in the 50s. Hayley Tanisijevich's grandfather attended the school and she chose to insert herself into this scene from the past.

Here's the original photo, which she found in the MLibrary Online Archives.

Lonny Marino applied her considerable drawing skills to the exercise. She drew a sketch of herself to insert into this picture in order to suggest an alternative narrative for this poor governess.

Here's the original:

 

 

Photoshop is brilliant and scary. Let's hope Seth's students continue to use it as a tool for good and not evil.

 


 

Observe. Study. Respond

the culture of A&D, what is it?

Kath Weider-Roos is the Creative Arts Producer at A&D. She snaps photos and asks questions.

I've been noticing some strange things popping up around the school lately – little huts in corners, odd signs on doorways, large bulletin boards with markers and duct tape attached.

Students in Rebekah Modrak's CFC: Culture class are the culprits. They have been studying us – ie. the culture of A&D – all semester and now they have made their move to affect this culture in some way.

During her weeks of studying the school, its building and its people, Marla Jones noticed that, despite this being a school of "art and design," the actual architecture of the building was very traditional, devoid of color, with hard edges and bland surfaces. She decided to alter the environment for us by adding splashes of surprise and warmth, wrapping surfaces in wools and other materials which she knit herself.

Allison Knoll, on the other hand, noticed all the inner beauty of the building: the anonymous doodles of former students inscribed permanently on desks and walls, the soft wear of the stairs from so many shoes passing through...

She decided to make a tour map of the building's hidden treasures, which she then left at the coffee stand and other places for people to discover. She has no idea whether anyone actually took the tour.

While studying the school with this new intense focus,  Ji-Woo Won began to notice all the signs – the constant instruction, the voice of authority that prescribed a way of behaving. She decided to gently poke at this cultural norm by offering playful alternatives to the signs.

Ji-Woo told me that part of the fun for her was playing with logos and fonts and figuring out a way to mimic the typographic feel of the sign. The signs are done so skillfully that, for a moment, we can imagine what it would be like to live in Ji-Woo's version of A&D.

Ji-Woo was thrilled to find that her sign had indeed affected at least one person in the school. One day she came across a student pulling out papers from one of her altered recycle bins for his project.

Other students noticed the relationships among people as they moved through the school. Melissa Weisberg noticed that her fellow students often tuned each other out as the listened to their separate songs on their ipods. She decided to organize a silent rave where students were invited to send in their favorite songs and all listen to the same songs simultaneously after a Penny Stamps talk one day.


 

While at this same Michigan Theater, listening to a Penny Stamps speaker, Anya Klapischak had a longing to see the work of her fellow students on that very same stage.  "I came out of the research phase [of the class] completely struck by the level of work being done by the students of the school, " she says. "It’s amazing and inspiring and provocative- and somehow under-celebrated."

Anya decided to organize a 'coming-out party', asking students to donate $2 each to help rent that same Michigan Theater stage to show their work, one slide at a time. Anya wore a uniform every day for the whole semester as a commitment to her project and so students who wanted to donate would recognize her in the hallway.

[And, by the way, if you'd like to attend: the event will be held on Thursday, December 15th at 5pm at the Michigan Theater.   You can read a great interview with Anya here.]

Mary Clare Harrington observed that critiques were sometimes stressful events for most students here at A&D. She devised a friendly persona, "The Booth Lady", to offer a sympathetic ear. She noticed though, that the chair ultimately became a place to express secret desires, fears and philosophical musings – "anything really."  Mary Clare told me that one student sat down and told her that he had always had a desire to run and slide on the tables lined up along the hallway. The booth lady encouraged him to live his dream and he survived with only a minor injury.

Dean Rogers sat down at the booth lady's chair too. "I didn't actually know he was the Dean when he sat down," she admits. "The first thing he asked me was "do you believe in life after death?",  which kind of surprised me, but I went with it. We had a good conversation after that."

Sang Hyun Lee noticed that students around him don't always have a forum to articulate their goals and wishes for the future. He wanted to invite the students to think about their aspirations and create a collective place to share them with one another. So he built the "Wishing Tree" out of aluminum vent hose. The tree comes out of the wall, as if growing out of the school itself, holding the individual wishes of the students.

The students wrote out their wishes on ribbons and attached them to the tree. Sang wasn't sure what to do with the wishes once the tree had to come down. "I'm storing them in my room for now," he says. "I need to respect the thoughts that went into them."

 

On the quieter side, Isabel Cohen created this cocoon, a small dark cushiony place where students could find a moment of quietude or just darkness, to help them refuel during their day.

All in all, the kind of public engagement that this assignment incited was new to many of the students but seemed to expand their thinking about what art-making can be -- not necessarily tied to a specific media or material -- but a way of studying the world and responding to it.

And, by the way, if you're tired of picking out what to wear each day, the students also designed a uniform for the school as part of another assignment. Take a look at the photos below and see if any of them tickle your fancy.



 

From Flat to 3D

Kath Weider-Roos is the Creative Arts Producer at A&D. She snaps photos and asks questions.

Spotted in the hall, this:

Performance art? A pre-Halloween party with an all-white, modular theme?

No, these were students TMP (Tools, Materials and Processes) presenting their first efforts in making a wearable sculpture out of both paper and fibers. 

Specifically, the assignment was this:

Using only the provided materials (paper and glue, fabric and thread), create a wearable sculpture that is situated around your head (or head and shoulders). Your sculpture will have a function that you will determine (whimsical/utilitarian, poetic/practical, etc.)

So Kristen Leydig, above, developed this boxed headress contraption to help capture the outflow of ideas that occur in the process of brainstorming.

Instructors Matt Shlian and Beth Hay came up with the assignment for TMP, a core course that requires students to explore a variety of media in a short amount of time. This assignment was designed to introduce students to the basic technique of taking flat materials – in this case, fibers and papers – and exploring their three dimensional potential. Sounds great, except the students would have two weeks to both learn the basics of these materials and construct their project. Then they would move on to other TMP sections in wood, metals, plastics and clay.

First, Matt Shlian, a master paper engineer himself, shows the students some basic techniques for folding, cutting, twisting and shaping paper. (If you've ever seen Matt's work you know this goes way beyond making a pirate hat out of your restaurant placemat.)

Beth Hay guides the projects in the fibers studios.

Students then presented their pieces to the class for a group critique.

Below Sonia Tagari created this 'hat' that spoke to the blinding effects of one's personal fears and how they often translate to the outside world.

Below David Chang created a very useful device to combat what his mother calls a 'chronic forgetfulness'. He created a note-taking device that keeps the notes literally in front of his eyes at all times. A convenient pouch for the pen and the notes are located at the side and back.

Shannon Moss created this representation of her brain and its thought waves. She feels the weight of her thoughts and emotions mainly in the shoulder area.

Below Caroline Marin created about 70 hands, some stuffed fabric and some paper, to address fear – when something scares you, you can cover your face with this handy "hand-mask".

Below Viviana Pernot's piece mimics a fungus and its growth pattern. In this case, the growth is positive, open and receptive as she starts her first year of college, independent and separated from her family.

Virginia Lozano pulled off an amazing feat in this mechanically complicated creation complete with wheels made entirely of paper. Virginia is a dual major in...yes, Mechanical Engineering. What a beautiful combo.

Next, these TMP will be off to the ceramics studio where they will work with clay and mold-making techniques. Stay tuned.



 

Paper Sculpture

Andre Grewe makes websites for the School of Art & Design.

Students in Matt Shlian's Winter 2011 advanced course, Paper Sculpture, ran the gamut from A&D freshmen to grad students in Dance and Architecture.  They explored the concept of collapsibility, investigating the physics behind accordion folds and telescoping instruments in a series of projects that included greeting cards, pop-up books, egg packaging, and wearable paper designs.  
 
 
Matt Shlian (left) and Papercraft class at Festifools parade, Ann Arbor.  Images by Melissa Squires.
 
 
Check out some of the amazing work they created in the video and images below - click the thumbnails to view larger versions.
 
 
Amber Kao - Folding/Unfolding: Paper Engineering & Dance
 



 

Furniture Making

Andre Grewe makes websites for the School of Art & Design.

It's not easy to take an object as familiar and functional as a table or chair and turn it into something new and exciting - but this semester, students in John Baird's Furniture Making class did just that, creating usable and beautiful works of art & design.  

 

Baird's class had two major assignments.  For the midterm project, students were asked to create a piece of furniture using a 48x48" square of Medium Density Fiberboard and mechanical fasteners. 

 

 

L - R: Dylan Box works on his MDF chair;  Charles Samuels - MDF Table

 

For their more open-ended final projects, students designed and developed chairs, tables, cabinets, and other objects.  They were allowed to follow their interests in fabrication methods and materials, so the finished projects incorporated everything from cement to carbon fiber to fiberglass.

 

 

Penn Greene sketches and displays models.  Scale drawing and model making were emphasized in the class.

 

John Baird meticulously documented the process and the final furniture pieces – modular stools, guitar stands, a fabric filled hanging nest chair and much, much more.  Take a look: click the thumbnails below to view larger images.

 



 

Lighting up your wardrobe

literally

Kath Weider-Roos is the Creative Arts Producer at A&D. She snaps photos and asks questions.

One of my favorite videos on PLAY gallery has always been Heidi Kumao's sound-activated dress from her series called Wearables:

 

This year Heidi decided to give A&D students a crack at this same art form, offering an entry level course into the relatively complicated art of creating technologically enhanced clothing but this time using a rather simple DIY tool called the Lilypad Arduino, a microcontroller specifically designed for textiles.

Turns out none of this was simple. In early February, Heidi had a sledding accident and broke her back! Luckily Michael Rodemer, another arduino-keen artist/faculty member kindly took over the class. 

Michael sent me some of the results of the students efforts and, though it sounds like it was a challenging class, clearly the worlds of computer programming and fashion are destined to meet.

My favorite was Elaine Czech's piece, that transformed an archaic fashion accessory – the veil –  into a modern, motorized flirtation device or alternatively, a privacy shield, depending on your mood.

 

And, student Riccardo Volpato (from Milan!) created these gloves so that you can now nervously drum your fingers on the tabletop and make music at the same time.  Richard used the Lilypad microcontroller to read force-sensing resistor signals, then play musical notes.

 

 
Melodie Hoke imagined an outwardly plain dress shirt with a secret inner life: when you dance, hidden LEDs in the shirtfront light up! From office worker to disco queen in one quick movement!
 

 

In the meantime, while her students were busy learning programming and how to sew with electronic wire, Heidi Kumao turned Frida Kahlo on us and figured out a way to make art despite her pain. Using her back brace as a writable surface and still slightly hazy from the vicodin, Heidi started working on a photo series as a response to her new unwelcomed condition as an invalid.

Here are some of my favorites from what is destined to become a bestselling calendar called "Embracing the Brace." Who knew that a sledding accident would produce a whole new line of wearables? Get well soon Heidi!