Creativity and Technology Join Forces at UH

Research and Innovation are Focus of Arts & Technology Center

If you want to see Heather Bisesti’s creative endeavors, just walk into her office in the Arts & Technology Center at the University of Houston Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts (KGMCA). Bisesti, who manages the center, made everything there – from the sculptures on the walls to her reclaimed walnut wood desk.

Housed in Room 314 of the Fine Arts Building, the Arts & Technology Center (ATC) is a place where all students, faculty and staff have access to cutting-edge technology. There are 3D printers, laser and large format printers, laser and vinyl cutters, and more than a dozen computers armed with full suites of creative software – everything aspiring designers need to create their projects. 

“These are industry-standard machines that artists and designers will need to know how to use in their careers,” said Joseph Lazzaro, KGMCA’s director of technology. “It’s about research and learning the ins and outs of these resources for their futures.”

Lazzaro developed the center in 2009 as a small-scale print lab. Now, more than 100 students a day use the equipment at the ATC, and it is instrumental to School of Art curriculum. Kara Coonrod is an illustrator at heart. She has been drawing ever since she could hold a pencil, but at UH she is studying sculpture. She uses the center for her digital fabrication class, which has opened up a whole new avenue to explore different materials and their applicability.

“The laser cutters and 3D printers give me another way to tie my two-dimensional background into a new three-dimensional world,” said Coonrod, who is making a leather purse. “It’s helped me as a student. It’s made things a lot faster ­– moving from the mental blueprint to actual finished product, which is useful in today’s fast-paced society.”

The ATC isn’t just for art students. On any given day, you will find biology, engineering, computer science and communication students using the state-of-the-art equipment. They have a strong support team to help them operate the tools.

“We provide a shared space with expertise and advanced tools for interdisciplinary learning and arts research. It’s really about empowering students to push boundaries and learn how technology can relate to their artistic practice,” said Bisesti, who as a graduate student at UH, relied on the lab for her own artistic practice as well as the classes she teaches.

Bisesti also has a background in engineering, electronics and robotics. She oversees 15-20 trained instructional assistants, who aid students and faculty with using the machines and software.

The Arts & Technology Center is open Monday-Saturday (hours vary) and offers support to members of the UH community looking to integrate technology with their artistic practice. Click here to learn more about the equipment and see the various forms of artwork students created in the lab.