Meet Alex Constatino
Early this summer, I had an idea to create a very small town on an island in a lake somewhere in rural Vermont. My inspirations were not only my experience of parts of the Northeast Kingdom, but also of other less-populated parts of Vermont, such as the farming town where I teach in Franklin County. At the time, I was first thinking of it as a series of paintings or drawings, but as I tried to think through it, I found that my imagination was running into challenges, and that it was best to try to create the town first in three dimensions. I decided the best way to see the project through would be to create it, to scale, as a sculpture/set, and I knew I couldn’t do that on my own, with my limited resources. This is why I applied for the Maker in Residency at Generator.
Artistically, I’m a painter, a printmaker, a sculptor, a potter, and even a sometimes animator and photographer. It’s important that each medium be valued on its own terms, but I am much less bound to any particular medium than I am to the ideas that the medium lives in. My transition from the painting and previous work to the high-tech approach to sculpture and set design I’ve been pursuing through my residency has more to do with determining the best methods to translate my ideas into fruition. The residency at Generator enabled me to learn to use 3D scanning, 3D modeling, and other aspects of computer aided design to use tools I had previously felt out of reach- 3D printing, 4 axis milling, and CNC routing.
My basic plan for my residency was to create an environment that could be used for photographic, video, and other projects as a preexisting world based on a mythical version of Vermont, with its beautiful environment, its relative isolation, and the push and pull between self-sufficiency and dependence on the outside world. My residency was the first step on a multi-step process to create and establish the island of Avalon. Over my residency, I designed and built two major landforms of the islands, and build all the structures and flora on the smaller island. The landforms were created from 3D scans of plasticine models I created and then scaled up. I CNC cut foam panels that I then laminated, finished, and painted. Most of the structures and trees were 3D printed from models I designed in CAD/CAM software. I set these all into a backdrop painted in acrylic on canvas using methods and techniques I brought from my previous painting work. In the future, I will be developing richer and larger backdrops, building more landforms, and filling them with structures, flora, and other components using techniques I learned over my residency and equipment and tools from Generator.