Oftentimes, people wonder about the “related arts” portion of the TIMARA acronym. In all fairness, “related arts” is a bit broad; one could definitely argue that all art forms are inherently related and therefore TIMARA deals with all art. But the program is not as all-consuming as that might suggest. While TIMARA students and teachers alike have many different interdisciplinary interests that synthesize music with other art forms and fields of study, the courses offered by the department remain primarily music-centric. However, there is a lot of cross-pollination that happens between TIMARA and other arts. At the heart of this is the Makerspace.
The Makerspace is exactly what the name suggests; a space for students to make whatever they can imagine. The space, despite its modest size, boasts a number of useful resources including a craft cutter, a laser cutter, a 3D-printer, a sewing machine, an embroidery machine, and several soldering irons (just to name a few). This array of tools allows for students of many different areas of interest to design, craft, and fabricate whatever they put their minds to. There are several TIMARA courses taught by Professor and Makerspace Master Abby Aresty that explicitly deal with using these tools. One such course, Mixed Media Circuits, involved recontextualizing traditional craft practices like paper-making for fully integrative projects that employed technological interfaces and circuit designs. This course, offered in the spring of 2022, was part of a collaboration with StudiOC – a multidisciplinary program uniting the college and conservatory. Through this collaboration, many nonmajors were introduced to TIMARA and are now familiar with the Makerspace.
Recently, the Makerspace has become even more accessible to students! Through a series of orientations offered in September and October, students were able to learn from the knowledgeable Makerspace teaching assistants the ins and outs of the space and its resources. One such workshop dealt specifically with soldering – a skill that is straightforward in theory but rather difficult in practice. This involves carefully melting metal so that a connection is made between two objects. Often, this deals with circuits in which small wires from separate parts of a board need to be joined together so that electrical current can carry across them. This may sound like a small task, but as someone who has been burned by a soldering iron on a particularly careless occasion, I have come to view the practice as an art form. I have also developed a healthy fear of the soldering iron. During the workshop, students learned about safety measures and best practices so that needless burning incidents like mine can be avoided!
Another workshop focused on a specific skill was the Cricut Craft Cutter workshop. Students who attended this learned how to use the Cricut – a versatile tool that can allow for precise cutting of materials like paper, vinyl, and fabric. This machine is a vital part of turning an idea into a tangible reality; through it, students can cut out whatever design they can graphically create. This controlled cutting allows for a wide variety of creative endeavors. In the Mixed Media Circuits class, for instance, Cricut cutting was frequently used to cut circuit designs out of copper tape. Doing such a job by hand would be laborious and subject to human error. Employing the Cricut, however, offers precision, convenience, and time to make aesthetic changes.
The Makerspace is not merely a host of tools for accomplishing creative goals. It is also a place for community-building and shared invention. There is something reassuring about knowing that others around you are experiencing the same pitfalls and frustrations that come with the creative process. Having fellow creators and friends to turn to when you are stuck on a particular obstacle can make all the difference in finishing a project or achieving a goal. And when you finally complete whatever it is you have been toiling away on, the people around you who were part of the journey can share in your success!