Developed in partnership with Around the Table, the San Jose Museum of Art's community initiative, A Serving of Shapes weaves together art, history, and technology to reflect on Silicon Valley's past identity as an agricultural hub and its present identity as a center of innovation. Through a combination of public participatory workshops and a museum exhibition, artist Corinne Takara engages the community in a dialogue that explores the relationship between this region's agricultural past and its technology-infused present.
In January 2014, public participatory workshops were held at the Dr. Roberto Cruz Library and Mayfair Community Center in East San Jose, and two workshops were hosted at the de Saisset Museum. The workshops created a unique opportunity for members of the community to learn about the innovative process of 3D printing by developing and contributing design ideas for three dimensional objects. Participants were encouraged to reflect on the history of food in this region or their personal relationships, experiences, and associations with food. Using Tinkercad and SketchUp, workshop attendees were invited to generate new designs from scratch or choose an object from a library of images created by Takara and manipulate the form from there.
Upon the conclusion of the workshops, Takara and de Saisset Museum curator Lindsey Kouvaris selected designs to execute in three dimensions. The works were printed on an Afinia printer owned by the artist and on a MakerBot Replicator 2X, which was made available to the museum by SCU's School of Engineering. The resulting sculptures compost the heart of the exhibition.
In addition to the selected designs, the exhibition honors the creative process through an installation of digitally produced tablecloths created by Takara. The picnic table-style tablecloths incorporate all of the designs submitted by workshop participants, whether produced by hand as a brainstorming exercise or created using 3D rendering software.
Together, the workshops and exhibitions aim to generate a dialogue about the complicated history of Silicon Valley and the ways in which it has been transformed from a place rife with plant- and wildlife, to an area covered by agricultural fields and orchards, to a region that is defined by technology and innovation. The project also aims to encourage reflection on personal relationships and experiences with food—how coming together around a table can bring a family closer; how a particular smell can trigger a distant memory; or how providing food to someone in need can be a welcome gesture of kindness.