Collaborative Work Shows Junction of Art, Technology

'Infinite Possibilities,'a collaborative piece of installation art created by Pennsylvania College of Technology students and Philadelphia-based artist Antonio Puri, was named during a reception to celebrate the work on Nov. 16. Thirty-nine boxes, 100 canvases, 54 students, an artist-in-residence, and Pennsylvania College of Technology faculty and staff members combined to create a large-scale work of art that was installed recently in the college’s Student and Administrative Services Center.

The work which shows how art and technology can come together is titled “Infinite Possibilities,” a name suggested by student Katina K. Lewis, a health information technology student from Williamsport. Lewis was among 11 students who volunteered time to paint 100 12-inch-square canvases with eight to 10 layers of paint and glaze over four days, under the direction of artist-in-residence Antonio Puri.

Puri, a Philadelphia-based artist, was born in India and has lived and traveled extensively around the world, gathering inspiration for his paintings from diverse cultural traditions. He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and English from Coe College. He also studied at the College of William and Mary School of Law in Madrid and at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. In addition to a solo exhibit at The Gallery at Penn College that coincided with his residency, he participated in group exhibits in the gallery in 2006 and 2009.

He enlisted students, who were selected by their deans and faculty, to create shadow boxes using recycled wooden cigar boxes that he provided. They were tasked with finding easy-to-obtain objects that represent their major and were asked to keep an open mind. With four days to complete the task, the students lived up to the challenge.

“I’m pretty pleased with the outcome,” said Daniel M. Smith Jr., of Gettysburg, a student in building science and sustainable design: architectural technology concentration. “You represent not only faculty, but you represent current students, past students and future students. It’s something that’s going to be around for a while, so you want to put your pride into it.”

Richard J. Cabral, a pre-nursing student from Bellefonte, was among those volunteers who helped to paint the square canvases, beginning with a white layer of gesso and adding layer upon layer of color during a succession of hourlong sessions until they were complete.

“I thought it would be an interesting thing to do one of those chances while you’re in college to branch out and try something new,” he said. “It was fun to be a part of something that is going to be on the wall for a while.”

Another group of students volunteered, along with William T. Goddard, associate professor of construction technology, to install the canvases and shadow boxes onto the wall at the Student and Administrative Services Center, under Puri’s direction.

During a Nov. 16 reception to celebrate the artwork, Puri thanked the students for their trust as throughout the process they saw only a portion of what the completed work would become and for their energy and time.

“That’s very special, because giving is so important in life,” he said. “I believe this project is about giving and ownership of something that is much larger than yourself. There’s no one person who can get credit for this.”

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