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Artist to add new dimension to Wexner Center

Courtesy of ClaudiaHart.com

Misogyny and pornography can drive a woman to say a lot of things. This one chose 3-D digital simulation as her platform.

Claudia Hart, working artist and curator and associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will give a talk called “Beginning and End Games” focusing on her career in the industry of digital simulation at the Wexner Center for the Arts at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Before Hart’s career expanded into the world of 3-D animation, she was an artist interested in photography and painting. When “Toy Story” was released in 1995, Hart was inspired to delve into the field of 3-D animation.

“I thought it would change my life somehow, and I had this need to learn it,” Hart said.

Her desire to learn the medium led her to New York University’s Center for Advanced Digital Applications, one of the only trade schools that taught media production at the time.

Younger males dominated the field for the most part at first, and it hasn’t changed, she said.

As a female artist at the age of 41, Hart was the odd one out in a culture of scientifically oriented males, she said. There was no artistic or creative approach taken to teaching the software and programming curriculum, it was taught in a much more meticulous and mathematic way.

“I was in a hardcore engineering-geek culture,” Hart said. “It was very much like a shop mentality — guys with toys.”

Working in such a new and innovative field, Hart was surprised at the lack of cultural awareness.

“(It was) extremely hardcore, extremely misogynistic and naïve from a cultural point of view,” Hart said. “I wasn’t used to being around people like that. (They were) very, very open to new technologies, but not new ideas.”

Often work produced by fellow classmates depicted women pornographically, Hart said.

Hart’s first art pieces in 3-D digital simulation were in response to this culture.

“Dealing with the female body and eroticism and sexuality in a kind of confrontational way came from the fact that I was within a culture that the guys — they were making a lot of pornography,” Hart said.

Hart said she has also been interested in exploring the concept of the natural and artificial worlds coalescing through media and biology.

“Everything is becoming cyborg. Nature merges with culture. It’s hard to know what’s real and not real,” she said.

One of her previous students, Shane Mecklenburger, is now an assistant professor of art at Ohio State. He said Hart is essentially using the medium as a “conceptual painter.”

“There might be a couple of other artists dealing with the effect of mass marketed computer graphic installations of female identity. I’m not aware of that many,” Mecklenburger said. “(Her work is) not especially didactic, it’s open. It’s not only feminist screed.”

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