Undergraduate Fine Arts and Design

Posted September 19, 2017

Fine Arts Faculty Capture Climate Change in 3D

PennDesign faculty members Deirdre Murphy and Scott White, who are wife-husband collaborators, recently completed a 5 by 25 foot sculpture that was installed last month in the burgeoning Silicon Valley city of Dublin, California.

The project, which took nearly two years to complete, combines Murphy’s fine arts expertise and climate science research with White’s unique knowledge of digital modeling and 1930’s car design. Murphy and White will be discussing the groundbreaking project at UArts’ Design Philadelphia event this October, detailing their unusual design and build process—an integration of traditional and digital fabrication techniques.

Warbler Migration was inspired by a shy species that resides in the Dublin ecosystem, and one which Murphy developed a particular fondness for in the course of her research. She has been researching the effects of global warming on bird migration for several years, using the visual data that scientists share with her to conceptualize and execute her paintings. The couple sees the opportunity to create environmentally-aware public art as an especially fulfilling one because of the potential to touch so many lives.

“Climate change has created new flight patterns; birds are staying in their summer homes longer, depleting the food supply they rely on to fuel their autumn journey,” says Murphy. “As educators, it’s important for us to share this knowledge. Embedding information about climate change in our art is a softer way to reach a broader audience.”

It was White’s task to take Murphy’s mesmerizing depictions of flocking birds and activate them into 3D space, which he did by digitally designing, then hand cutting and assembling more than 500 aluminum plates into a handcrafted hyperbolic curve.

Murphy’s and White’s presentation will take place Monday, October 9 at 6:30pm at 211 South Broad Street, Terra Hall, room 511/513. Process art from Warbler Migration  will be on display, along with the Industrial Design NOW exhibition prior to the presentation, from 5:00 - 6:30pm. The event is free and open to the public.