12 Dallas Artists Go Digital With TED

One of last year’s most celebrated events had to have been Southern Methodist University’s first collaboration with TED, a conference non-profit founded in 1984 to bring together people from three fields: technology, entertainment, and design. The fall symposium was only the beginning of a new brain trust that has been kicking around town: TEDxSMU. That organization has been forging contacts between local creative classers, holding events, and basically allowing their tech-inspired approach all things thinking to begin to infiltrate the local culturati. Case in point, on September 14, TEDxSMU will open an exhibit for their Rapid Artists program. Twelve Dallas artists from various mediums have learned to sculpt on CAD programs, computer software that allows for objects to be created digitally and then rendered into 3D objects.

I’ve only seen the press release images, and while the work seems visually compelling, I will admit some skepticism about this idea in general, which strikes me as a little gimmicky. Still, the process was likely interesting for the artists involved, and they’ll be speaking at the salon accompanying the exhibition opening. More images of the work and a full release can be found after the jump.

(Image above: “Elk” by Dave Van Ness)

TEDxSMU and SculptCAD Announce Rapid Artists Salon and Special Exhibition Exploring Boundary of Sculpture and Digital Media

DALLAS – August 27, 2010 – TEDxSMU, the high-tech think-fest organized around “ideas worth spreading,” is partnering with SculptCAD, an innovator in blending sculpture and computer-aided design (CAD), for the Dallas premiere of the SculptCAD Rapid Artists sculpture exhibition.  The exhibition, the first of its kind in Dallas, will open with a special TEDxSMU salon from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 in the lobby of One Arts Plaza, 1722 Routh Street, Dallas.

"Sniffing" by Brad Ford Smith

For the exhibition, 12 Dallas artists have diverged from their typical mediums to explore the boundaries between sculpture and the high-tech world of 3D computer modeling.  On display will be their final creations, each sculpture having been created and produced using ground-breaking 3D printing processes in materials ranging from bronze to plastic.

The September 14 salon and exhibition opening is open to the public, and tickets are $15 in advance, or $20 the week of the event or at the door, pending availability.  For more information or tickets, visit www.tedxsmu.org/events/

The salon will feature a TEDxTalk from Nancy Hairston, founder of SculptCAD, who created the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project to see what artists could do if equipped with tools for rapid prototype printing, 3D scanning and digital sculpture.  Afterwards, the artists will be available for one-on-one discussions about their sculptures, inspiration and the experience of working with 3D modeling technology.  The exhibition will remain open to the public through October 16, 2010.

The September 14 TEDxSMU Rapid Artists Salon is one of several TEDxSMU-affiliated events leading up to the October 15 TEDxKids @SMU and October 16 TEDxSMU conferences.  The pre-conference events provide an opportunity to engage even more members of the Dallas community in the TEDxSMU experience, in order to stimulate new ideas and discussions.  For more information about upcoming TEDxSMU events, visit www.tedxsmu.org.

Participating Exhibition Artists:

Heather Gorham, Ginger Fox, Shawn Smith, Dave VanNess, Mark Grote, Jay Sullivan, Tom Lauerman, Albert Scherbarth, Heather Ezell, Brad Ford Smith, Shane Pennington and Nancy Hairston

About the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Program

"Hare" by Heather Gorham

SculptCAD Rapid Artists is an experimental project launched by Nancy Hairston, President of SculptCAD, a leading provider of product design and rapid prototyping services.  Dedicated to the creation of fine art, the project’s mission is for artists to explore and expand on the use of computer technology to design and produce sculpture.  Through the project, artists could experience the freedom from the constraints of physical media that digital processes can offer, and investigate how that freedom would affect their work.  The idea was to expose artists to something new, something they had never worked with, and then see what would happen. 

SculptCAD Rapid Artists was founded in October 2009 and is based in Dallas, Texas.  For more information about how SculptCAD Rapid Artists is changing perceptions of art in the physical world, visit http://www.sculptcadrapidartists.com.



Bringing together ideas and interesting people from around the world and around the corner, TEDxSMU and TEDxKids @SMU are single-day conferences in Dallas, TX.  Now in its second year, TEDxSMU is jointly produced by Southern Methodist University and the Idea Fund of the Communities Foundation of Texas. 

Both 2010 events – TEDxKids @SMU on October 15 and TEDxSMU on October 16 – will take place at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

TEDxKids @SMU (the first TEDx event designed for students) hosts 350 middle school students for a free four-hour conference, in exchange for completing four hours of community service.  The 575 TEDxSMU attendees must apply and be selected in order to participate in the full-day conference.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.  At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.  These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event.  The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized, subject to certain rules and regulations.

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.  Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives.  The annual TED Conference invites the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes.  Their talks are then made available, free, at TED.com.

TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.  The annual TED Conference takes place in Long Beach, California, with simulcast in Palm Springs; TEDGlobal is held each year in Oxford, UK.

TED’s media initiatives include TED.com, where new TEDTalks are posted daily, and the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as the ability for any TEDTalk to be translated by volunteers worldwide.  TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action; TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world, and the TEDFellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

TED2011, “The Rediscovery of Wonder,” will be held February 28 – March 4, 2011, in Long Beach, California, with the TEDActive simulcast in Palm Springs, California.


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  • Peter, Thanks for the write up. I hope you can make it to the exhibit.

    These artists are working with a technology that has quickly taken over the manufacturing industry. Those running shoes in your closet, that toothbrush with the hard and soft rubber handle, your kids bicycle helmet, those are examples of 3 D computer modeling and rapid prototyping.

    The SculptCAD Rapid Artists are exploring how these technologies can be adapted to the creative nature of sculpture. So I wouldn’t say that’s gimmicky, I would say that’s doing what art has always done. Explore, appropriate, create.

  • Great initiative. 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing can produce stuff that no other manufacturing technology is able to. This is perfect for artists who want to extend their work into the new and unknown.

  • Not to be annoying but my image wasn’t credited.

  • @David: Not at all annoying – a careless oversight. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • ho-hum

    Not really cutting edge technology but probably new-ish to the Dallas scene. And the application as art — only a couple of the artists made anything of any rael interest here the rest are trashworthy. Typical.

  • ho-hum

    Not really cutting edge technology but probably new-ish to the Dallas scene. And the application as art — only a couple of the artists made anything of any real interest here the rest are trashworthy. Typical.