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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Senior INF Rylen Wiggins (2) high fives Senior INF Trinity Cannon (6) before Texas A&Ms game against UTSA on Feb. 25, 2024 at Davis Diamond. (Jaime Rowe/The Battalion)
Storm the Beach
February 29, 2024
Senior INF Rylen Wiggins (2) high fives Senior INF Trinity Cannon (6) before Texas A&Ms game against UTSA on Feb. 25, 2024 at Davis Diamond. (Jaime Rowe/The Battalion)
Storm the Beach
February 29, 2024

Student-crafted art installation to accommodate poetry slam

 
 

After two weeks of work, seven vacant blocks on the north end of Downtown Bryan will once more be occupied by the annual workings of transitory art – ArtFill.
Sixteen students from the College of Architecture will have the new installation finished just in time for it to serve as a performance space for Mic Check’s slam poetry night during First Friday.
ArtFill made its debut in May 2013. Birthed from a discussion about the future of Downtown Bryan and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, ArtFill is a means to temporarily “activate a blank urban landscape,” said Ren? Graham Lawrence, visiting professor and studio owner in Bryan, who is involved in the project.
In 2010, the old and dilapidated buildings rooted at the northern end of Downtown Bryan were purchased and demolished by the city for future developments because they were no longer structurally sound and did not possess any architectural significance, Lawrence said.
The installation is housed within two 10 feet by 10 feet steel frame cubes located on the empty lots.
“This area was founded on a very rich industrial engineering culture,” Lawrence said. “And [ArtFill] also serves as an opportunity to showcase a continuation of innovation and progress. So the idea is that the art works within [the cubes], that hang within or grow upon cubes, is constantly changing the structure, each time with a new group.”
Students in Lawrence’s class worked for a semester to create a scale model that incorporated a performance space for Mic Check and kept with the theme, “choosing a super power.” On Feb. 21, students presented the projects to a panel of representatives in the community. The project winner was Breana Cassino, senior environmental design major.
“I just want to see what it looks like fully built,” Cassino said. “Seeing it in the model was cool but seeing it come together is really interesting, because it doesn’t really look exactly like the model. But seeing it full scale is really awesome. It just puts things in perspective, like I just can’t wait to stand underneath it.”
Cassino’s project was based on the theme of time travel. Having lived in nine different cities because her dad was in the military, Cassino said she gained inspiration from the idea of moving.
In Cassino’s design, one of the cubes represents the past while the other the present. Within them, materials like rebar and welded wire mesh have been used to create smaller cubes that flow in and around the large cubes with LED lights intertwined throughout.
Cassion said the students had to put a “limitation on their power.” Cassino chose to feature a lit-up rock that acted as a time-travel device. She said the rock, as an admittedly ineffective time-travel machine, represented the inability to change the past.
“The present cube is also not as full as the other cube because there is the ability to get fuller as you are living in the present,” Cassino said. “I’m growing as a person, the present is happening to me. I’m not completed yet, so my cube is not full.”
Bill Moran, Class of 2010 and president of Mic Check, said the organization usually holds its performances at Revolution Cafe, but he liked the idea of being encompassed by the installation and felt it would add “color” to the poetry.
“We’ve had that artistic atmosphere but never in a 3-D sense, where the stage is an art piece,” Moran said. “And we’ve never done something with an artistic installation that has a goal set in mind to have us read, that is an interdisciplinary event between spoken word poetry and 3-D physical, structural art. I thought that was pretty neat.”
Chloe Mengers, sophomore environmental design major, said she thought ArtFill was a way for people to experience art differently.
“I read somewhere that architecture is the greatest form of art because it’s a ‘functional art,’ so basically the art we live in,” Mengers said. “You always want to create something that you can walk in, sit around and use. I love interactive art – things that you can touch and feel and move in. I think ArtFill helps in that sense.”
Chris Paulk, automation fabrication manager at the Architecture Ranch located at the Riverside Campus, said he loved having the opportunity to work with students on projects like ArtFill. He said a hands-on experience was probably the best way students could be exposed to work within their industry.
“They’re more prepared and in tune with what’s really going on out there,” Paulk said. “And that actually makes them a better architect or engineer, or business person – they know how that system works. To me it’s one of the best environments you can work in.”
Eli Wood, junior environmental science major, worked on last year’s ArtFill installation. He said in architecture, internships and jobs could be difficult to come by, but this project reflects the future appearance of architecture.
“It’s helpful because in the future this is how design is going to happen, being able to partner with the local community and a ton of people while working in the professional field and working with contractors – something that is extremely beneficial to the students,” Wood said.
Lawrence said as a local and a professor she is excited to see new art in the community and witness the opportunities it provides the students.
“I remember when I was going through architecture school, the first time I got to see something I designed and architecturally constructed – it’s a really exciting moment,” Lawrence said. “At the sophomore level this is really going to be kind of the first project that students will get to experience that.”
ArtFill Poetry Slam will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday on 700 N. Main Street in Bryan.

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