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Penn State College of Arts and Architecture Represented at Contemporary Cast Iron Conference

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Cristin Millett's sculpture class pours aluminum

The College of Arts and Architecture will represent Penn State in various artistic ways at the 8th International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art (ICCCIA) in Scranton, PA, May 28–June 2. Cristin Millett, professor of art at Penn State School of Visual Arts and chair of exhibitions for ICCCIA, sees the conference as an opportunity to showcase Penn State’s role as a leader in university art foundries and research. Three current students, seven alumni, and several faculty and staff members will exhibit work, present their research, and perform throughout the event.

Dunleavy Dance Projects, led by Michele Dunleavy, Penn State associate professor of dance, will perform Steel Valley Rhythms on Wednesday, May 30, at 10:00 p.m. as part of the conference. Dunleavy, choreographer/performer in Steel Valley Rhythms (SVR), was inspired by visits to the historic Carrie Blast Furnaces in Pittsburgh and creates a performance experience that connects the audience to the region's rich history. Performers will interact directly with the environment, using the furnace and surrounding area to create music, and as staging areas for choreography, while images are projected directly onto the furnace walls. Jeanmarie Higgins, associate professor of theater, will be attending the performance and writing an essay on SVR and other performances occurring during the conference. The project features dancers from Central Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York City, including Dunleavy, Jimmy Bonilla, Sarah Cook Mason, Natasha McCandless, Nolan McCormick, Dario Natarelli, and percussionist Joshua Troup, with College of Arts and Architecture staff member Alexandra Bush designing video and Cody Goddard providing technical support.

“This performance presents an opportunity to ‘install’ Steel Valley Rhythms in a completely different, yet related setting. The performance in Scranton will be unlike any previous performances of the piece,” noted Dunleavy, who has presented SVR performances as part of the Festival of Combustion (Pittsburgh), at the Arts and Design Research Incubator (University Park), and The State Theatre (State College).

Millet’s work will be featured during the conference in three exhibitions: Ferrous Wheel, Transformed: Digital to Corporeal, and That’s What She Said. She also curated the exhibition Size Matters, and she served as a juror and curator for Ef (Fe)ct. To round out her efforts, Millett will present her research as part of the panel "The Materiality of Iron.”

Alumna Kiana Honarmand (’14 MFA), who is affiliate assistant professor and artist-in-residence in the School of Visual Arts and assistant coordinator for the Stuckeman School Digital Fabrication Lab, is serving as the juror and curator for Transformed: Digital to Corporeal, exhibiting in Ef(Fe)ct, That’s What She Said, and Size Matters, and presenting on the panel, “Iron in the 21st Century.”

Hillel O'Leary (’17 MFA Sculpture) was selected to create a site-specific installation in a train car, an exhibition sponsored by the International Sculpture Center. Current Sculpture BFA candidate Haven Tucker was selected for the Meltzone, where student artists are paired with an experienced artist-mentor. He will work alongside his mentor this week, creating molds that will be cast in iron during the conference.

Other Penn Staters participating in the conference as jurors, presenters, or artists include School of Visual Arts alumni Katie Hovencamp, Elham Hajesmaeili Nooghi, Sidney Mullis, Christina Dietz, Julia May Connelly, and Cydnei Mallory, and current students Xalli Zúñiga, Chee Earn Khor, and Yiwei Wang

“Students learn the process through active participation,” explained Millett. “With each subsequent pour, students are given more and more responsibility. In this way, iron pours follow a hands-on apprenticeship model, where learning occurs through interactions with teachers and experienced foundry workers. With every iron pour, skills and techniques are passed from one generation to the next.”

ICCCIA occurs every four years, with the 2014 conference being held in Sabile, Latvia. This year’s conference includes a keynote speech by Carolyn Ottmers, who runs the foundry program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There will be technical and conceptual panel presentations, technical workshops and demonstrations, nightly performances, iron pours, and an afternoon train excursion with multiple stops to experience performances and visit the twenty art exhibitions scattered across Scranton. Conference attendees will then spend Saturday, June 2, pouring their molds and creating works of art.

“The liquid metal is absolutely beautiful,” added a delighted Millett. “And after all the hard work of making the molds and melting/pouring the metal, it is such a rewarding surprise to crack open your molds after the pour and to see the finished metal casting.”

For more information, visit the ICCIA website: