Athena Kafantaris: Resident of February/March 2016

Athena Kafantaris is a Burlington-based artist, performer and puppeteer currently working on massive, performer-operated dolls and puppets. She uses primarily recycled materials, including found and personal objects, to build creatures and environments. At her core, she is a collage artist and has great interest in integrating mediums like installation, sculpture, video and performance. Themes explored in her work are loss, the family structure, communication and metamorphosis. Watch her documentary style interview…IMG_3566

What you sought to accomplish during your time of residency? 

I chose to focus on four areas of development for my ongoing puppet 
project. My goals were to develop a rotating collar assembly for 
performance, experiment with extending puppet limbs, develop costume 
pieces that integrate various textures and to develop portable power and 
lighting systems for performance pieces. I developed a new puppet with 
onboard lighting and power, made various costume pieces, developed a first 
draft of the USB fan collar design, and experimented with a new 
articulated puppet hand design. I also started using a projector to play 
with the concept of projection as costume, an area I have been interested 
in exploring for a while.

How you accomplished it?/An overview of what you learned.

I was able to advance all these goals, primarily using the laser cutter, 
3D printer and the electronics area. In addition, I took the machine shop 
and CNC classes to develop a better understanding of machining. I learned 
new software, including Blender, Inkscape, Illustrator and Fritzing, and 
these helped me greatly to understand modeling and layout as they relate 
to axis-based devices. I also spent a lot of time working on prototyping, 
especially for the more complicated goals like extending limbs and the 
rotating collar.


How did the generator community participate in your experience?

I got so many wonderful and challenging ideas from Generator members and 
used several concepts pitched at the members meeting where I initially 
presented. Devin had suggested playing with lighting acrylic and I heavily 
experimented with this concept. Robin suggested casting with silicone, 
which I have not tried yet, but am in the process of exploring. Pete 
encouraged me to explore inflatable parts for costume and puppets and I'm 
excited to do more research on using that concept. Max was incredibly 
helpful with all of my goals, taking the time to carefully consider my 
designs and suggest materials and techniques to achieve better results. I 
couldn't have asked for a better teacher! Lastly, the biggest resource 
from the community was Leif Hunneman, who encouraged me to apply for the 
residency, taught me to solder, design printed circuit boards and finalize 
a solution for power and lighting in my puppets. At every turn, members 
offered to help and support my project any way they could. People were so 
open to sharing their own process and to working out possible solutions. 
I'm so grateful that I had access to such generous minds.