The Artisan’s Asylum Speaker Series seeks to engage our community and inspire us to make the world we want to see. Register here to reserve your spot in any of our upcoming sessions.
All events are free for members and Friends of Artisan’s and a $10 suggested donation from the public. If you are interested in being a speaker, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in doing a talk? Fill out this form.
Visit our WGBH Forum Network Partner Channel to stream at home or on the go!
February 27th, 2020 7 PM – 8 PM
Irene Ferri was born in Cambridge, when her father came to study Architecture at MIT, while her mother worked as a photographer and fabric artist, creating quilts and tapestry. Her family which is mostly Roman Italian comes from a long lineage of artists and architects. She grew up traveling between her native Rome, London, and Cambridge. In Italy, Ferri’s grandfather, Lorenzo Ferri, a famous sculptor in Rome, mentored her from a very young age in his studio. Irene grew up surrounded by arts and culture, having her first encounter with woodworking at the age of 13, when her father would let her use the bandsaw to make dollhouse furniture. She studied Graphic Design at the Istituto Europeo di Design working as a freelance layout editor and Graphic Designer at the FAO United Nations in Rome. In her mid-twenties, she returned to work at her father’s wood shop, in the countryside of Rome where she learned her design skills, creating project drawings for clients, and working with a team in the fabrication process. During her stay in her father’s workshop, Ferri discovered and fell in love with the work of Judy Kensley McKie, leading to the discovery that she could marry form and function, and that furniture can be art, and she never looked back. She is currently based in Cambridge and has her studio at the Artisan’s Asylum where she continues to design, explore and create, immersed in searching for the functionality of design combined with the whimsical aspects of fine and contemporary art.
Irene will be showing her new work using wood and color pencils to create intricate assemblages that will integrate furniture pieces she is currently designing at the Social Area display wall.
She will talk about her trajectory as a designer and artist, her practice and her experience learning woodworking from her father as well as being surrounded by creatives growing up.
January 30th, 2020 7 PM – 8 PM
Mac hails from the great state of Idaho, where he attended the University of Idaho and received a BFA in Sculpture. During his time there, he taught himself to use the tools of technology and integrated it into his art making process. He has since moved to Boston and works at the intersection of Art and Technology out of his studio at the Artisans Asylum.Technology is a tool, and like a shoe being used to drive a nail, it can be used in ways that it was never intended but compelling none the less. My work primarily deals with our evolving interactions with technology and how we derive meanings from them. In practice, I primarily use digital methods to produce objects and interactions, utilizing techniques such as 3D printing and micro controllers to actualize those things that exist solely as code. I draw inspiration from the subversion of popular iconography and other signifiers, internet culture, and a hearty love of Dada.
December 5th, 2019 7 PM to 8 PM
Chris Fitch Art and Design will talk about his explorations using engineering and dance as inspiration for his kinetic sculptures.
About this Event
Many of Chris’ pieces have no particular narrative arc, and instead are about adding rhythmic complexity to the cycle, creating mechanical expressions that have more in common with dance or music than with storytelling. Often these abstractions carry suggestions of natural rhythms, like rain or blowing grass, or bubbles rising in a column of water. Mother
“Nature’s engineering prowess is my chief mentor. An
engineer and dancer, I am drawn to the choreography I see in the natural world — from the unfurling of fiddlehead ferns to the sinuous motions of fish, or birds, or even belly dancers. At a time when society is increasingly distracted by the promises and pitfalls
of industry and technology in our daily lives, my aim is to divert some of that energy back toward poetic examination of our roots.”
Chris Fitch is a sculptor, engineer and inventor. His prize winning mechanical sculptures, installations and performance based artwork have been presented internationally. His puppets and state of the art miniature theaters have appeared with major symphony productions in New York and Los Angeles.
His credits for work in animation include Sesame Street, Motorola, Disneyland, and Samsung. Further projects have included the design of a toy factory, independent invention, landscape design, a tree house bed and breakfast inn in the Philippines, and the development of workshops about kinematics, motion as medium, and foam latex stop motion puppetry. More information can be found at:
November 14th, 2019 7 PM to 8 PM
Christopher Konopka is a multidisciplinary artist that focuses on the cross section of human-computer interaction, analog video art and experiential learning. He is passionate about finding new ways to connect computers and people. Drawing from his varied skill set, his goal is to develop communication systems that provide insight into individual experiences of the human condition.
Since 2015, Christopher has been using analog video synthesizers with the intent to be a first-hand document of his mental state at the moment of each recording. During this period, he has accumulated over 30 terabytes of edited video content, each video with a unique title. The intention of the research project was to create a research data lake that could be a source of future creative endeavors. During the summer of 2019, he started to use FFprobe, FFmpeg and ImageMagick to generate data tables. Using Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing, Christopher seeks to expose the inner workings of his creative process and create an algorithmic content generator.
In a society increasingly reliant on widespread and unethical
surveillance, how can we be sure that the devices we rely on have our best interests in mind? How can we trust the software we use is not spying on or mistreating us? The answer is to insist that the programs and devices we use are free, as in freedom — fully modifiable, shareable, and able to be studied without the onerous restrictions and antifeatures of proprietary software. Two representatives from the FSF will be demonstrating devices from the RYF program that run entirely on free software and firmware, escaping the walled garden offered by corporations like Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
Craig Topham came to work for the Free Software Foundation as a Copyright and Licensing Associate at the end of 2018. Among many duties Craig works on the “Respects Your Freedom” computer hardware product certification program.
Greg Farough is the campaigns manager for the Free Software
Foundation. Their work involves planning the FSF’s educational and media campaigns against the threats of proprietary software and bulk surveillance, in addition to planning in-person protests and actions in line with the FSF’s mission to protect the rights of all computer users.
Join local artists Lani Asuncion, Christina Balch, Keaton Fox and moderator Jesa Damora in a discussion about using art and technology to bring people together in today’s digital world. Combining the messiness of technology with their bodies and experiences, these women artists explore and question the relationships between people, technology, and nature.
Bostonians, rejoice! You can grow and extract indigo blue from several indigo-bearing plants, including Persicaria tinctoria, or Japanese indigo, and Isatis tinctoria, or Dyer’s Woad. Both are easily grown in New England, and coaxing the blue out of them is a fascinating lesson in chemistry. Come see how it’s done in this free, 2-hour talk and demonstration using freshly-harvested plants from our Vermont farm.
Instructor: Karen Cornish
Honey Hill Studios is a collection of Vermont spaces devoted to the cultivation and creative potential of natural dyes, inks and pigments, from micro-farm in Hinesburg to artist studio at Local 64, a co-working space in downtown Montpelier. Owner Karen Cornish is a grower, maker and educator sharing her passion for plant-based colors through school and community workshops. Born and raised an urbanite (Chicago), she’s now a full-on country girl whose been growing lovely things in Vermont (plants, children, ideas) for decades.
A News Garden for a (Potential) News Desert Chris Faraone and Jason Pramas of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and DigBoston will address Artisan’s Asylum members on the
If you missed this talk, please visit WGBH’s channel for the recording!
We will welcome “Team Questionable Designs”, a combat robotics team comprised of hands-on hardware engineers across Boston to share their knowledge and experiences with us. Their current bot, Valkyrie, is in its sophomore season on Discovery and Science Channel’s Battlebots.
Exploring material manipulation and global inspirations across different cultures, and the story of connecting the dots between hobbies, passion and career, and the persistence to do what you love.
New Singularity: Discussing the Intersection of Science & Art
Jason Chase and Tom Morgan from the NanoLab team to talk about “Gravity Black”, is a hue-less black oil paint that, for the first time, allows painters to neutrally darken their paints without changing their color!
Finding Freedom in Fluid Art
Local artist Ebbe Dahlor will be giving a talk on the process of fluid painting and experimenting with mixed media. She will take this time to discuss how patterns in nature affect and influence her art and her journey from representational art towards abstract expression. She will also be giving a live demonstration of her different painting processes.
Making it Old School
The Printing Office of Edes & Gill is an old school print shop….really old school , like 17th/18th c old school. We use wooden reproduction and original pressed with hand set type and engraved intaglio copper plates to reproduce Boston documents of the American Revolution.
In this talk, Gary will be talking about his journey, experiences, and his work. He will also be bringing in some samples of items made through this old school process!
Creating Live Edge Slabs with an Alaskan Sawmill
Live edge lumber can be expensive and difficult to source. Why not make it yourself?
This lecture, by local sawyer Chris San Antonio, will focus on the process of producing live edge slabs using an Alaskan sawmill. From “tree to table”, Chris will detail the steps involved in milling, drying and finishing live edge wood. Examples of locally harvested slabs, and Chris’ chainsaw mill will be available for viewing/handling.
Nextcloud: The Start to Controlling Your Own Data
Come to this talk and discussion to learn more about getting started with this open source tool called Nextcloud!
About Nextcloud: Nextcloud is an alternative to Dropbox and other services. It gives you an ability to control your own data among other things.
Breaking the Code: Alan Turing
Join us on October 16th for another Speaker Series! A2 Member Dick Rubinstein will be giving a talk about the intricacies of the historic enigma machine and will demonstrate the use of his own personal 1940s version of the Enigma machine!
The Watercolor Wonders of Supernova (Live Demo)
Join us on Wednesday, September 26th for a talk and live demo by Chie Yasuda, a Somerville-based watercolor artist originally from Japan.
Come and listen to her talk about her newest art series inspired by “supernova.” She will take this time to speak about her inspiration for her artwork and how science informs her creations. Additionally, there will also be a live demonstration of her unique use of mixed media and watercolor.
Abraham’s Metal Gifts Made with Love
Abraham’s son Robert is on a mission to promote the life and artwork of his father. Join us this July 26th, where Robert will speak on his father’s life and art! This one-of-a-kind experience is something you don’t want to miss!
Abraham Megerdichian, 1923-1983, worked as a machinist in Massachusetts from the time he graduated from high school in 1942 until his passing at the age of 59. Aside from being a machinist he was a metal artist. From the 1950s on Abraham created numerous utilitarian and then artistic metal objects, nearly all as gifts for family. For decades most of the objects sat in storage. Since 2014 Abraham’s metal artwork has been exhibited at numerous museums.
For his work promoting his father’s art Robert has been featured in the Boston Globe, on WCVB TV Chronicle, and Our American Stories on radio.
Art & Science do not have to be exclusive pursuits. In fact when they are joined together the results can be both surprising and powerful. The pendulum of my vocation has swung from art to science and back again enough times for me to realize that I need both in my life and work to feel complete. In this presentation I will describe some of that journey and show you examples of the large-scale art that has come of it and where the journey is taking me next!
Mike Thomas, a local engineer and environmentalist, will be bringing awareness to the marine plastic pollution problem by showing off the plastic shredding machine that he and Jen Cocking have built over the last year. This plastic shredder will soon be added to the Artisan’s Asylum roster of tools in an attempt to create an in-house recycling process for 3D printer filament.
Lithuaniamania or SCUL: Plasma Div
For two glorious weeks in June, SCUL was invited to participate in a mission of epic proportions. Six brave pilots traveled to the far reaches of Lithuania to help resuscitate 300 abandoned playa bikes. With our wits, some basic (or homemade) bicycle tools, a flux core mig welder, and a few dozen gas masks, we joined forces with hosts M-Labs Racoon crew. Local youth were invited to learn repairs, reconstruction and the fine art of “Pimping” a bicycle.
We’re excited to hear from Hilary about his work, approach and perspective on the creative endeavor. Looking for the extraordinary? The fabulous? Or the just plain peculiar? From wire sculpture to stained glass … funky furniture to crazy clocks … dragons to children’s toys, Hilary Scott’s imagination knows no bounds. Hilary Scott creates large and small sculptures in his studio behind the Somerville, Massachusetts home he shares with his wife and two children. Designer of the City of Somerville’s 9/11 and Iwo Jima Memorials, he works in a variety of materials; his guiding principle being to banish the mundane, delight his wife and amuse his children and his clients. During the months of July and August, Hilary moves to the Berkshires, were he serves as the official photographer for Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. Hilary’s concert photography can be seen at hilaryscottphotography.com. Learn more about Hilary and his work at his website. Photo by Adrianna Mathiowetz.
Explorations in Musical Tinkering: electronic balloons, rapping computers and beyond
“I’ll share my journey over the past few years developing new technologies for learning through creative play with music. I’m a co-inventor of the MaKey MaKey invention kit, which lets you turn everyday objects into musical instruments. I’ve also developed iPad apps that let you paint with your voice, build interactive musical worlds and tell musical stories. I’ll share my recent work with Google and with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Finally, I will show my latest work extending the musical and sound capabilities of the Scratch programming environment, to open up new expressive possibilities for learning through musical tinkering.” Learn more about Eric and his work at his website.
Join us for an evening with Liz LaManche talking about her work in public art, fine art and kinetic light paintings. LaManche’s work is often characterized by bright color and playful figures or a layered use of symbolic & iconographic detail. My work has been characterized as “vibrant, with a touch of whimsy…” “Saturated dreamscapes sit astride personal and evocative moments to create heightened emotional realities.” I create large-scale works that enliven the built environment, adding meaning, color and ranges of feeling…”like a view of a slightly different world.” Learn more about her and her work at her website.
Learn about Drew’s experience in Thailand during Artisan Asylum’s Makerspace Cultural Exchange Residency Program, get updates on current happenings, and learn how you can get involved with the program moving forward! The suggested $10 donation will go directly to support the second half of the exchange program with Makerspace Thailand. In the meantime, learn more about our Makerspace Cultural Exchange Residency Program here.
When space is at a premium, stuff needs to get organized, or stress will ensue. Join Skunk in exploring the joys and habits of organized living.
Thrilling topics include:
* Organization as a Way, not an Event
* A flowchart for dealing with stuff
* The smarter closet system
* Choosing the right storage systems to suit your needs
* A full box is a useless box
* The stupidly-simple way of organizing files
* How to de-cruft without the heartbreak
* Riding the incoming tidal waves of crufty objects that don’t fit anywhere
Check out Skunk’s work at Skunkadelia – Steel Sculptures of Cute Robots.
Tuesday January 17th, 7-9PM
Art is an expression of our humanity, culture, and social commentary. Museums and galleries provide sanctuary to some of our greatest cultural treasures; however, it is the accessibility of public art that administers the biggest impact, giving people from all walks of life a chance to enjoy art. In recent years, the Greater Boston area has been home to many evocative art-related initiatives. Join the Somerville Arts Council and the Artisan’s Asylum for an evening with some of the area’s most dynamic public art creators.
Chris Templeman, a long time member of Artisan’s Asylum, will provide a behind-the-scenes look at his public art project “Make and Take”. This piece, to be installed in Chinatown Plaza on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, will celebrate the upcoming Year of the Rooster by 3D printing and giving away 2,017 rooster figurines over the course of the year. He will discuss the challenges of actualizing this public 3D printer, including: automation techniques, 3D printing in the harsh New England climate, and 3D scanning an artifact from the Museum of Fine Arts. He will also discuss collaborating with fellow Artisan’s Asylum members “New American Public Art”, and of the democratization of 3D printing which has motivated this entire project.
About Chris Templeman (Instagram: @christempleman) Chris is owner of Templeman Automation, an engineering firm specializing in harsh environment sensing and mechanical design. He is also owner of Happy Workhorse, a 3D printing and design service bureau.
Sarah Kaiser is a software design consultant and illustrator working in Boston and cosplay extraordinare. See more of her portfolio of work here: http://www.peachpunk.com/
New American Public Art, headquartered at Artisan’s Asylum, is a design-and-build firm at the intersection of public art, architecture, and technology. Their upcoming local project, Public Radio, won the “Technology” category of this year’s Public Space Invitational contest. Dan Sternof Beyer and Bevan Weissman, co-founders of NAPA and longtime members of the Asylum, will talk about the relationships involved in this project, and how strategic partnerships are necessary to create big cool projects.
About New American Public Art
is a multi-disciplinary studio for conceptualizing, designing, fabricating, and installing interactive projects. http://www.newamericanpublicart.com/
East Boston-based Parlor Skis has quietly grown into the largest ski manufacturer in New England, by building fully custom skis one pair at a time, while staying true to the community that has helped them grown and grown with them. Responding to customers wanting to understand how their skis were built,Parlor initially offered a ski-building course expecting it to be only for a few interested diehards. Since then, it has mushroomed into a series of summer courses that quickly sell out as they are announced that has allowed Parlor to ramp up operations and hire additional staff. Mark will discuss how the meeting of the maker movement with a renewed interest in products made in America, has allowed him to quit his job and pursue his dream of building skis full time.
Nati Sang, Founder and CEO of Makerspace Thailand in Chiang Mai, will help kick off Artisan’s Asylum’s new Makerspace Cultural Exchange Grant program, designed to expand opportunities for the international community of artists, craftsmen, and makers to work, learn, and forge connections at makerspaces around the world. Nati will speak more about this exciting new collaboration, and share his personal experiences in the makerspace movement.
Join us on May 4th for a fiber arts talk, demonstration and community weaving project with sculptural weaver and member Jeanne Flanagan. As this is a part of our Fibers Arts Night, bring your projects to discuss and create with the community!
In 2010, Jeanne discovered sculptural weaving and has been almost exclusively working in triaxial mad-weave since then. The weave moves in three directions simultaneously so the corners create 60 degree angles. This means you cannot create a box, but allows the formation of natural shapes.
For the community weaving project, Weaving up a Storm, a tornado will hang in the social area this week and we invite everyone to join in the fun. Bring in your digital cables and wires and weave them into the storm!
Intellectual Property law has many traps for the unwary that can ensnare makers — things like “on sale bar,” “genericide,” or the “work-for-hire” doctrines, to name a few. Like all traps, however, IP pitfalls can be avoided, but only if you know what to look for. In this program, Keith Toms, a local IP attorney and member of the Asylum’s Advisory Board, will provide a field guide for some of the most common IP pitfalls to help you identify how best to protect your own IP and how to avoid running afoul of other people’s rights.
Local Somerville mask artist and educator Eric Bornstein joins us to share his background, work, and process. Eric will be teaching new mask making courses at Artisan’s starting in spring 2016 – keep and eye on our classes page for all the details! In the meantime, check out some of Eric’s incredible work at http://www.behindthemask.org/.
Artisan’s Asylum members Mark Rukamathu and Michael Smith will be facilitating a brief talk and discussion that will include their own projects, experiences, and fabrication during Boston Design Week!
rukamathu.smith is an interdisciplinary design firm, working at a range of scales and through a variety of mediums.
We think, we explore, we iterate.
Materials guide us; our clients inspire us.
Schedules and budgets keeps things real.
We grow by making.
After several years of practicing law at the white-shoe law firm Ropes & Gray, Matthew Thomas transitioned to a career as a furniture designer, woodworker and sculptor. His practice at Ropes & Gray included anti-trust, data breach, employment and government enforcement litigation. He now spends his days with drafting paper and pencil, mallet and chisel, jointer and planer, and generally covered in saw dust. On February 10th, he’ll discuss the successes and setbacks during his transition, the pitfalls and joys of moving from a professional career to an artistic career, and how he sees his small business fitting into the modern maker economy.
For more information about Matthew, check out his 1-minute interview at Artisan’s Asylum.
Rich Streitfeld, CPA — a/k/a “Zen Mensch Accountant” is a popular speaker at Asylum forums and specialist in helping makers and other creatives organize and succeed in their business (yes, it is a business!). Rich’s talk is titled “Tax and Incorporation Issues for Inmates”. Then you can pepper him with questions over refreshments. For a sneak preview of Rich’s entertaining style and advice for artists click here. New and existing clients welcome!
Watch acclaimed neon artist Wayne Strattman build a “carbon tree” in our social area in this interactive talk & demo. Where Does Mass of a Tree Come From? is a blown glass tree filled with carbon dioxide which, when energized, produces a light well known for at least a short period in the early 1900’s but largely unknown today. As the piece runs the carbon will slowly be sequestered into the piece reducing its pressure and changing the look of the piece.
It’s of vital importance today to be able to answer the question posed by the title of this piece: Where does the mass of a tree come from? This carbon tree is part of the living cycle of energy and mass that today appears to be out of balance and increasingly to threaten the very existence of life on the planet if things go as they have in the past. For more information about Wayne Strattman, check out his website.
Artisan member and former chairman of the board, K. Gretchen Greene, tells the tale of her transition from big law corporate tax lawyer to high end sculptor and designer. Two and a half years after leaving the firm, with a client list including the House of Dior, a recent solo show at New York’s Hammond Museum, and a residency at Glacier National Park, Greene’s work is at major New York galleries and international art and design fairs and has appeared in international press including AD Italy, Forbes China, the Economist and U.S.A. Today. www.kgretchengreene.com.
Mia Scharphie is a multidisciplinary designer, researcher and community advocate who works at the intersection of design, entrepreneurship and issues of social equity.
Passionate about the potential of design to catalyze social change, in 2012 Mia cofounded Proactive Practices, a research collaborative that identifies and publicizes emerging business models of socially entrepreneurial design. The Proactive Practices team has received grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and the University of Pennsylvania, and has spoken and run workshops across the country, empowering designers to pursue social impact work strategically. Mia recently served as the Northeastern University Architecture Department’s first fellow, investigating emerging models of innovative design practice, and she is the founder of Build Yourself+, a workshop that teaches action-based empowerment skills to women in design.
Enjoy an evening of stories and information to help prepare you for your first competition.
Rob Masek is a former Battlebots competitor. He has spent has last 15 years constructing fighting robot arenas, and organizing tournaments. He currently works as the Director of Operations here at Artisan’s Asylum. In his spare time, he Volunteers for FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, and other robotics competitions.
With the help of the Artisan’s Asylum community we have constructed an arena and are holding local competitions. We want to get you involved and building your first fighting robot.
Hear Eric Schimelpfenig talk about the WikiHouse, an open source building system. Many designers, collaborating to make it simple for everyone to design, print and assemble beautiful, low-energy homes, customised to their needs. Eric started his career designing architectural millwork, furniture and cabinetry. After many years working for wood shops and cabinetry showrooms he founded SketchThis.net with the goal of making it easier for designers to use technology in their businesses. He has worked with Google and Trimble on the development of Sketchup, and traveled the country teaching Sketchup and digital fabrication to countless students. Learn more about Eric’s work at www.sketchthis.net/eric
Have you ever wondered why the handle on your vegetable peeler fits so perfectly in your hand? Or why the interface on your phone feels so intuitive (or doesn’t)? Or for that matter, why are those stupid plastic blister packages are so impossible to open? From Charles and Ray Eames, to Jonny Ives; the influence of Industrial Design is all around you. Check out some of Alex’s projects on his portfolio.
Join Founder and Fleet Admiral Skunk as he discusses play as motivation, refining systems, and the ever-evolving systems that help keep a chopper gang flying.