Faculty Research Showcase

Arts Research Revealed

A&A Faculty

April 11 to April 23

The Faculty Research Showcase Features 

Bespoke Millinery Course

Richard St. Clair Head of Costume Design, Associate Professor of Theatre

A two week course in advanced hat making at the Arts University Bournemouth, United Kingdom.  This course concentrated on techniques for building ladies hats of the 1910s in preparation for our Fall 2015 production of the musical Titanic.  The course focused on the design and development of four hats in varying sizes using straw, fabric, lace and accessories.


The 21st Century Sculptor: Merging Digital Technologies with Traditional Processes

Cristin Millett Associate Professor of Art

Millett’s investigations of medicine and its history are integral to her process. Her research stems from her childhood growing up in a medical household where she was surrounded by discussions, most often at the dinner table, that focused on the human body: its diseases, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments. In her family of scientists, those conversations continue to this day, and the profound effect that exposure has on her art continues. Although most scholars respond to their investigations through writing, as a visual artist, the results of her critical analysis are expressed in works of art.  While Millett's research on medical history forms the basis for her sculptural work, her artwork functions as a contemporary cultural critique of societal issues surrounding reproduction and gender identity. She explodes the traditional methods of sculpture by incorporating new advances in digital technology including CNC machining, 3D printing, and robotics, combined with the time honored practices of stone carving and bronze casting. Millett received generous support for her research from Autodesk, Penn State’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities, the College of Arts and Architecture Hess Research Endowment, and the School of Visual Arts.Cristin Millett


Idolizing Mary: Maya Catholic Icons in the Yucatán Peninsula, 1550-1700

Amara Solari Associate Professor of Art History

In the wake of their 16th-century conquest wars of Mesoamerica, the Spanish Crown launched a campaign of evangelism, destined to remake the indigenous inhabitants of the American continents into Catholic believers.  Part and parcel of this mission was an attempted systematic eradication of indigenous religion and the physical destruction of associated visual culture such as clay effigies of native deities.  In their place, Catholic friars installed statues of Christian personages, including the various saints, Christ, but most commonly and effectively, avocations of the Virgin Mary. This book examines the mechanics of this process, grounding the study in an illumination of Maya Marian cults located in the Yucatán Peninsula, primarily focused on the Virgin of Itzmal.  In particular I examine how Maya Catholics utilized this icon during the numerous epidemics that plagued the province, drawing parallels between public events of adoration, such as kinetic pilgrimage, and Pre-Columbian healing rites.  After a century of processual development, a distinctly Yucatecan form of Catholicism emerged, whereby the conception of physical contagion appears to have influenced how all members of colonial society, Spaniards, Afro-Yucatecans, and Mayas alike, conceived of the sacred capabilities of numinous Christian icons.


The Virtual Reality Teaching Lab (VRTL): Training Music Educators for Meaningful Engagement With All Students

Ann C. Clements Associate Professor of Music

Co-collaborators: Chris Stubbs, Manager of Emerging Technology and Media, Teaching and Learning with Technology Zac Zidik, Game Programer, Educational Gaming Commons, Teaching and Learning with Technology The Virtual Reality Teaching Lab (VRTL), entitled First Class, has been constructed to provide preservice music education students an opportunity to hone their teaching and engagement skills beyond classroom discussion. Built around Microsoft Kinect, Unity, Microsoft Speech Platform, and a second screen experience, this program provides lifelike engagement with virtual reality benefits, including the ability to deconstruct tasks while providing continuous feedback. This project won the 2015 Penn State Open Innovation Challenge (OIC) and is being built with assistance from Penn State Teaching and Learning with Technology.


Landscape Materiality: Innovation and Convention since Modernism

C. Timothy Baird Professor of Landscape Architecture

This research explores innovative and groundbreaking landscape architectural design through the lens of materiality and describes both innovative and conventional landscape material use from Modernism to the present.  The images of constructed landscapes reflect an approximate chronology of material expression over the past several decades.