By Lauren Shook
Fine Arts Professor and Leading 3D Artist Darlene Farris-LaBar
Motivates and Inspires Students Through Innovative New Technology
Art is an outlet of expression utilized by many children and adults as a way of communicating feelings and emotions. It is hard to believe that accomplished artist Darlene Farris-LaBar had ever been shy, her blue eyes bright with excitement amid the hustle and bustle of the students milling around the technology present in ESU’s 3D printing lab.
Farris-LaBar found her voice through the expression and empowerment established in her art. As a child, she was inspired by her grandmother. Her tinkering with household items was able to be focused through the motivation of her grandmother.
“My grandmother was able to get me connected with some really great local artists that at 10 years old, I had my first oil painting that I created from different arts I worked with,” said Farris-LaBar.
Whether she was fiddling with her mother’s sewing machine or taking apart objects such as her watch, Farris-LaBar was always looking for ways to create outside the box.
3D Printing allows for the artist to continue to create from a unique perspective. This innovative technology is available to students on ESU’s very own campus.
Farris-LaBar plays an integral role in the inspiration and transference of knowledge to students. Teaching students how to utilize 3D printing technology not only teaches them software skills but also skills in continued learning and creativity.
“There is certainly the instruction part of technology, but I try to let them know that they need to be continuous learners as well. They need to understand how to use the resources out there to learn beyond what I teach them in the class,” said Farris LaBar. “I try to encourage their own self exploration, and I always give them a little bit of freedom so that they can explore beyond what I’m providing for them.”
Farris-LaBar states that she was drawn to teaching due to the relatability of college students. The dedication to her students is palpable through her awareness and attentiveness towards those in the lab.
“I find that I love to give, and maybe I give more than I take. I enjoy being able to share my knowledge and my experience to the newer generations, and think a lot of it is that I relate to them,” said Farris-LaBar. “I felt that if I could give them more than what was given to me, then they would have an even better chance to succeed, and to me that’s very enjoyable.”
Farris-LaBar is a leading artist who acknowledges the importance of inspiring younger generations and continuing to encourage them to continue to create and learn. However, the backing for such programs is often underfunded.
“I think that we are surrounded by the arts, whether it’s what we wear, what we sit on, or what we drive. We can go into museums and galleries, but I think that people don’t realize the value and the impact the arts has on them, and without the arts we wouldn’t have everything around us that makes us such a great culture today,” said Farris LaBar. “ I feel that we need to wake people up with what is actually happening here in the arts.”
A major obstacle in Farris-LaBar’s life is time.
“ I always felt like if I could align what I was teaching with what I was learning with my art, it would be a great way to bring the worlds together again,” said Farris-LaBar.
Despite the great distances that art has evolved with the creation of 3D printing, Farris-LaBar believes that this is only the beginning. At the thought of the future of technology and artistic expression, Farris-LaBar’s face lit up with excitement and intrigue.
“I think we’re just in an early spark to something that is going to be very explosive, and it’s going to change our world dramatically. 3D printing is really just the stimulus to get people to start thinking in a new direction to realize the possibilities of what can be done,” said Farris LaBar.
“I believe that [3D printing] also has opened the doors for amazing creative thinkers, because there’s so much that we call open source; a lot of free software out there,” said Farris-LaBar.
Farris-LaBar’s first 3D printed item was an Echinacea flower. Along with her recurrent themes dealing with nature in various locations worldwide, she also works other technologies into her creations.
“I try to explore what’s out there, so I’ve used video in my work before, different sculptural pieces, and sensors as well,” said Farris-LaBar. “I think that those are all to me equivalent to oil paint or clay. There are other new items that we can use in order to be able to express ourselves further in new ways.”
When the busy artist and professor is outside of the classroom and research process, she enjoys running, jogging and watching scientific documentaries. The artist also has a fondness for travel and the people and experiences that she cultivates as a result.
“I’ve been to Europe, France, Columbia and Brazil. This summer, I went to the Swiss Alps, and right now we’re in February and it’s still living in me,” said Farris-LaBar. “It’s one of those amazing experiences I had. Still, I can’t believe what I saw and how beautiful those mountains are.”
The artist is able to still experience this same sense of awe and adventure through her work without physically traveling.
“I feel that the same experience I gain when I model the flowers and create them is the same feeling and experience I gain when I travel, because it’s like seeing something new, fresh, exploring, and being inspired,” said Farris-LaBar. “All that stuff is all the same, so if I can’t travel, I think being able to create, going into the flowers and being able to move around on the screen is a lot like that same exploring process.”
Farris-LaBar has been a professor at ESU for several years and has made a large impact on both her direct students and the world of art as a whole.
For more information about the artist, visit her website at www.darlenefarris.com.
Email Lauren at: