April 23, 2020
Beals Studios Team Print PPE for Healthcare Workers
Since it opened in 2016, the David T. Beals III Studios for Art & Technology has been a high-tech hub for all the departments across campus, and 3-D printers are constantly whirring in the background. When the campus closed, they sat idle. Now the printers have been put back to work in home studios producing personal protection equipment (PPE) for local healthcare workers.
When the news hit about the dire need for PPE to protect medical personnel from COVID-19, Director of Creative Technology Aldo Bacchetta, Beals Studios Coordinator Nathan Neufeld (’15 Ceramics) and Instruction Assistant Hannah Fine (’17 Sculpture) started exploring ways they could help. They discovered a consortium of makers, PPE for KC, that have come together to print and assemble protective face shields. With a total of five 3-D printers at home, the KCAI team is printing close to 45 face shield frames a day.
“We knew we had the talent and resources to help and it was important for us to find a way to contribute, but we wanted to make sure whatever we made met the safety needs of the workers. PPE for KC provided us with a government-approved digital file for the design,” said Bacchetta.
The project is truly a collaborative effort. The KCAI team together with many others throughout the region are printing up to 950 one-piece plastic headpiece frames daily. They are picked up and taken to a location where volunteers add the plastic shield, sanitize them and package for delivery to local hospitals.
“We all want to do what we can for our community. Even though we’re not involved in every step of the process, it’s nice to know that our part goes to a larger cause,” said Fine.
According to Niki Donawa, Chief Community Relations Officer at Truman Medical Center and the mother of KCAI student Claire Donawa (Sophomore, Printmaking), projects that protect front line medical staff are invaluable. “People don’t often think about the connection between art and medicine but now makers from the 3-D printing world are helping to protect our physicians. As bad as COVID-19 is, it has brought us together with so many entities who want to contribute,” she said.
Neufeld noted that the project is a practical solution to a problem and agreed it’s a symbol of what can happen when people come together. “It demonstrates the collaborative nature of the maker community,” said Neufeld.
Bacchetta hopes this experience will help in future pandemics. “If there is a resurgence of COVID-19 or a different pandemic occurs, we can take what we’ve learned through this process and be more prepared. The maker community can go into production immediately,” he said.
The KCAI PPE project was recently cited at Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s press conference.
KCAI utterly condemns the ongoing racist treatment of Black Americans that has resulted in the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and in the continued murders, harassment, and prejudice that our Black community members face on a daily basis.
Two beloved faculty members, with over 76 years of combined service to KCAI, are retiring at the end of the 2020 academic year. They’ve inspired generations of students with their relentless passion for teaching and leave an immeasurable impact on the college. Thank you Steve Whitacre and Karen McCoy for your years of service, dedication to our students, and active engagement on campus. Congratulations on your retirement. You will be missed. Fellow faculty share tributes to their accomplishments. Steve Whitacre Professor and Sosland Family Chair of Foundation Joined KCAI in 1969 For over half a century, Steve Whitacre’s remarkable and distinguished career and long-standing leadership of the Foundation program at KCAI has earned national and international recognition. Before coming to KCAI in 1969, Steve studied at the Columbus College of Art and Design and earned both a BFA and MFA from Ohio University. According to the artist and educator, his studio practice continues to explore the estuary between art and architecture in relationship to sculpture and personal, poetic language. Steve’s works are held in many private collections and have been widely exhibited in this country, England, Scotland, and Italy. He has taught and led projects at the Cranbrook Academy of Art read more…
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