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Tihanyi + Digital Clay

Submitted on January 11, 2019 - 1:49pm

Interdisciplinary Visual Art Senior Lecturer Timea Tihanyi began her career in the world of medicine while still living in Hungary. After moving to the USA, she refocused on ceramics, first obtaining a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and then an MFA in 2003 from the University of Washington. Since that time, she has continued an active artistic practice in clay, most often working with slipcast porcelain.

A change came to her practice in 2016, partially triggered by a residency at Sundaymorning@EKWC (formerly European Ceramic Work Center) in the Netherlands. She was working on a project about knowledge systems, which included mathematical models created in collaboration with mathematicians. The models had to be prototyped using computer-aided design and a 3D printer; she then used those prototypes to create molds and build slipcast objects. These works were shown at 9e2 in October 2016 and at Linda Hodges Gallery in January 2017.

Tihanyi purchased her first 3D clay printer in 2017 using a 4Culture Tech-Specific grant. With that — and a desire to create a cross-disciplinary space for visual art, design, and architecture similar to what she had experienced at Sundaymorning@EKWC — she founded Slip Rabbit Studio. Her research into digital clay continues as do collaborations with mathematicians. In 2018, Tihanyi and Mathematics Professor Sara Billey received the UW College of Arts & Sciences' Bergstrom Award for Art and Science. Tihanyi's research and related exhibitions are also supported by a residency at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, a CityArtist Projects grant, a 4Culture Project grant, and the Neddy Artist Award, all awarded in 2018.

Slip Rabbit Studio typically has several research projects going at any one time. UW students from art, design, mathematics, engineering, computer science, communications, and psychology have participated as studio interns. Research residents are invited to collaboratively explore the potential uses of the 3D printer. One recent resident, Interaction Design Assistant Professor Audrey Desjardins, worked with Tihanyi on translating sound data into patterns on a series of cups. Because women are underrepresented in digital manufacturing and ceramic 3D printing, Slip Rabbit Studio joined Women in 3D Printing in 2018, and they are becoming local ambassadors for women and first-generation young professionals in the field. The studio is also working on a book, Connected Processes: Tactile Patterns in Art and Math, which will be out later this year.

Tihanyi brings some of her research back to the classroom through a new course on maker culture and practice. It includes both traditional and digital ways of making (and unmaking) as well as putting those in cultural and historical contexts.

She says about her work:

My art making is inspired by my background in neuropsychology and focuses on epistemological questions of what we know and how we know it. It is important to emphasize that Slip Rabbit and 3D-printed ceramics is not the entirety of my creative practice but, at the moment, is the most salient aspect of it. Technology is inseparable from us humans, it’s our creation, reflects our minds and bodies. It is not an alien and antagonistic thing, although it may feel like that sometimes. Printing with clay presents clear evidence of this. The process, negotiating between clay and code, has many interesting opportunities for artists but also for non-artists, like engineers and coders, as well as for individuals with disability. In its best form, digital ceramics is truly collaborative. As such, it is on all of us to create a healthy and thriving dialogue around the methodology and the tool to develop its range and potential.


2019 Events

  • January 16: speaker at MIT Enterprise Forum Northwest: 21st Century Art panel
  • March: presenter for Fab Lab at NCECA Conference
  • September: speaker for Art and Math panel hosted by ICERM at RISD
  • November: invited speaker for Illustrating Dynamics and Probability, part of Illustrating Mathematics semester workshop hosted by ICERM at Brown University