William Paterson Art Professor Michael Rees and Students Spent Month In Italy and Used High-tech Robots to Carve Sculptures

Brian Sandilands, Sean Tulner, and Frances Carroll

Michael Rees of North Bergen, a William Paterson University art professor, and William Paterson students Brian Sandilands of Wayne and Sean Tulner of Wyckoff recently spent a month in Gramolazzo in Tuscany, Italy where they used high-tech robots and digital software to carve sculptures using historic Carrara marble.

The workshop was offered as a collaboration between the Digital Stone Project, a not-for-profit U.S. technology organization that offers state-of-the-art opportunities for digital application, research, and experimentation, and Garagnana Innovazione, which provides technology and innovatice machinery for marble and stone processing.  In addition to Rees and the two William Paterson students, workshops participants included faculty and students from Bennington College, Yale University, University of Denver, New York Institute of Technology, and New Jersey Institute of Technology.

The robots used for the project are typically used in heavy industry, but are being used more frequently for artistic and architectural applications, says Rees. “Artists have been visiting and carving in the Garfagnana region for generations,” he added.  “This work-study trip was an incredible opportunity for our students to live and work in Northern Italy and to use premier twenty-first century technologies.”

The students also took Italian lessons, studied hardware and software, toured the marble quarries at Carrara, and visited the Venice Biennial, one of the most prestigious international art exhibitions. The workshop concluded with an exhibition at Castle Fortezza e Monte Alfonso in Castlenuovo, Garfagnana.

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