Students bring the right stuff to artist's print project

33 Kelvin print
Cornell students helped artist Pedro Barbeito produce the print project "33 Kelvin."
33 Kelvin box
"33 Kelvin" in its custom laser-etched box packaging.

Six College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) students have collaborated with Brooklyn-based artist Pedro Barbeito on the creation of an unusual print project now on display at a Los Angeles gallery.

Barbeito, who taught at Cornell last spring as a visiting critic in art, features images from science and technology in his work. His recent focus is the latest generation of space telescopes, designed to help scientists look back in time to the origin of the cosmos.

“It’s just another way in which science is trying to figure out why we’re here and what is the meaning of all this,” Barbeito says.

The piece created at Cornell, “33 Kelvin,” is in “The God Particle,” Barbeito’s solo exhibition through Feb. 8 at the 101/Exhibit gallery.

The print comes in a laser-etched cardboard box, enclosing a 3-D plastic model of the James Webb Space Telescope that will launch in 2018 and two images of the universe – a 12th century Persian map and a drawing from a photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The title reflects the temperature the newly constructed Webb telescope will operate in as the successor to the Hubble.

“We didn’t go into this with any rules," Barbeito says. “I just wanted them to push the limits and understanding of the boundaries of these media.”

Calvin Kim, a two-degree art and psychology major, worked on designing the box that contains the print and various components that the recipient puts together.

“I had never thought about a box which holds a print,” Kim said. “We had to work out things like the height of the box and how the structure needed to be stronger.”

In addition to Kim, the student team included Olivia Lerner, BFA ’13; Aaron Sage, BFA ’13; Uroosa Ijaz ’15, Danni Shen ’15 and Jin Yoo ’16.

Working in the graduate student and faculty studio in the basement of Olive Tjaden Hall, they created 15 copies of the print, one of which will be donated to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.

The joint production of a work of art is the first collaboration of its kind at Cornell between AAP students and a professional artist. Associate professor of art Elisabeth Meyer proposed bringing Barbeito, who has had 13 solo exhibitions in Europe and the United States, to campus and having him collaborate with students. The independent study project gave them a realistic view of what it takes to create art, she says.

“This is a real transition in professional practice,” says Meyer, who also helped produce the print. “It’s one thing when they’re in school and doing their work, but when it’s something going out to market and going to be displayed, that’s a different story.”

While in Ithaca, Barbeito also used Cornell’s Creative Machines Lab, the facility that conducts 3-D printing under the direction of associate professor of mechanical engineering Hod Lipson.

“Everything just kind of lined up, and we were able to put the project together in one semester,” Barbeito says. “It would have been a different project without the students and the resources at Cornell.”

Sherrie Negrea is a freelance writer.

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