The various makerspaces we visited in the past year all shared a common focus on prototyping tools. Whether they preferred cardboard and tape or computer-controlled routers and foam board, the makers we met emphasized prototypes and models, and they moved regularly from idea to physical example and back to a revised idea.

Even before the Maker Lab opened, we began working with Dallas-based artist and ACU alumnus Rolando Diaz (’79) on a project that would merge traditional art with the Maker Lab’s digital fabrication tools. Over the last few weeks Rolando has worked with Brandon Young from ACU Art & Design and Lyndell Lee in the Maker Lab to take a concept from early drawings to a final piece he showed Friday at the Maker Lab’s open house.

We had an opportunity to visit with Rolando in Abilene and in his Dallas studio, and we continue to be impressed with how easily he moves between a wide range of formats and media. The film below follows him through production of his piece Forbidden Fruit, a reflection on the beauty and sense of loss of his native Cuba.

Ro hopes to use this small model as a prototype for a five-foot version, to be unveiled at his annual gallery show in Dallas this December. We asked him to give us the backstory on “Forbidden Fruit,” the series of paintings on which the sculpture is based.


On Protoyping

If you haven’t seen it already, the short film We Are Makers also introduces the iterative process of design in conversations like this piece from Allan Chochinov at the Visible Futures Lab at SVA:

“It is a tenet design consulting that you need to create something very quickly, sort of the smallest possible thing to earn trust. . . You can have a bunch of people meeting about what should we make, what should we do, but as soon as you give them something to react to, really give them anything to react to, you can make much faster progress.”

Allan emphasizes that prototypes can often make collaboration tangible, putting something in the hands of participants to help move the conversation forward. Come by the Maker Lab and you’ll see a wide range of early models and projects, most of them finished but many of them imperfect in ways that also helped shape the final product.

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