Written by Bennett Hall, Corvallis Gazette-Times, June 15, 2017. Reprinted with permission.

 

OSU graduate Madelaine Corbin was in the Community Art Studio Class and participated in the Extension Reconsidered Creative Oregon series. Part of the groundwork for “The Mobile Color Laboratory” came from conversations Creative Coast activities in Newport and elsewhere with OSU Master Gardeners.

 

Madelaine Corbin stands next to her art project, the "Mobile Color Lab," in Fairbanks Hall at Oregon State University on June 7. Photo: Amanda Loman, Gazette-Times
Madelaine Corbin stands next to her art project “The Mobile Color Lab” in Fairbanks Hall at Oregon State University on June 7. Photo: Amanda Loman, Gazette-Times

As they are every year at this time [in June], the walls of Oregon State University’s Fairbanks Gallery are adorned with the thesis projects of graduating art majors.

But this year’s [2017] show has something different: Parked in the middle of the floor is a 4-by-8-foot flatbed utility trailer holding four galvanized planters filled with colorful flowers.

It’s the latest iteration of “The Mobile Color Laboratory: A Natural Pigment and Dye Garden,” an evolving project that has become something of an obsession for Madelaine Corbin, who will graduate from OSU on Saturday with a bachelor of fine arts degree.

Displayed in the midst of a gallery, it clearly appears to be a work of art — but its homely materials and functional design just as clearly mark it as part of the workaday world.

For Corbin, that’s kind of the point.

“The idea is really to try and experiment with community engagement, art and horticulture, see where those boundaries are (and) open up those boundaries between art and community and campus life,” she said. “That’s why it’s mobile, because it really exists in those in-between spaces.”

The project had its genesis when Corbin was working in OSU professor Mas Subramanian’s chemistry lab, where she was part of a team that found a way to synthesize a previously unknown blue pigment. Another source of inspiration came when she did a practicum with New York artist Mary Mattingly, who created an edible landscape on a barge that floated through the city’s waterways.

Corbin really liked the idea of taking art out of the gallery and bringing it to the people.

“I started looking at how people could inject color into their everyday lives,” said Corbin, a 2012 Corvallis High graduate. “My project is focused more on color and the origins of color and how we could grow our own.”

An earlier version of the project was built on a repurposed bicycle trailer.

For the current incarnation, Corbin assembled a trailer kit purchased at a local hardware store. She used recycled cedar boards and fence posts for the deck. The plants were grown from donated starts or seeds or bought with donated funds (a “license plate” on the back of the trailer lists the names of the donors). At some point, Corbin says, she may add some PVC hoops and plastic sheeting to turn the whole thing into a rolling greenhouse.

Madelaine Corbin's rolling garden, cum art project. Photo: Amanda Loman, Gazette-Times.
Madelaine Corbin’s rolling garden, cum art project called “The Mobile Color Laboratory: A Natural Pigment and Dye Garden.” Photo: Amanda Loman, Gazette-Times.

Both versions of “The Mobile Color Lab” are designed to be towed to various sites for art workshops. Corbin has also designed two companion pieces — a field guide to the plants in the lab and a workbook with space for notes, sketches, rubbings and so on — that can be ordered online.

At Corbin’s workshops, participants are encouraged to use plants from the rolling garden in a variety of ways. Some, such as marigolds, sunflowers and dahlias, can be simmered to produce dyes for tinting textiles. Basil is edible, echinacea and chamomile have medicinal properties, and still others — the pasqueflower plant, for instance — have elegantly filigreed leaves that can be pounded onto pretreated cloth in an ancient Japanese printmaking process.

“Part of why this is called a laboratory is because they’re total experiments,” Corbin said. “I have no idea what’s going to happen, and that’s really exciting to me.”

Of course, she could have done it the other way around by setting up workshops in a gallery or art studio and inviting people to attend. But Corbin really liked the idea of taking art out of the gallery and bringing it to the people.

“Sometimes the gallery can be intimidating, and this project really wants to be approachable,” she said.

“And the reversal of that is kind of the same question I have: Why, out in the world, do we not see more things as art? I just love that idea that you’re actually immersed in it all the time and you don’t have to go to a special place to see it.”

After graduation, Corbin will be showing a version of her “Mobile Color Laboratory” at the highly regarded Blackfish Gallery in Portland and starting a job as assistant to the director of Djerassi, a residential retreat for artists in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco.

She’s not sure what direction her own art will take next, but she intends to keep on questioning the assumptions that create artificial barriers between the art world and everyday life.

“That’s kind of the responsibility of an artist is to break out questions and think of them in different ways,” she said.

“I get that way every day. I have so many questions, and if the art is doing that for you, then, oh my God, it’s working!”

Reporter Bennett Hall can be reached at 541-758-9529 or bennett.hall@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @bennetthallgt.

Posted by Rick Cooper, Oregon Sea Grant, Breaking Waves Blog, July 25, 2017

 

2017 Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.
2017 Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.

A new video shows how Oregon students are preparing for technical careers by building underwater robots for an annual competition in which they demonstrate their skills in front of engineers and scientists.

The video, which was produced by Oregon State University with funding from Oregon Sea Grant, was filmed during the 2017 Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition, which Oregon Sea Grant coordinates. It is one of about 30 regional contests around the world in which students qualify for an annual international competition.

Contestants often have to troubleshoot in real time. (photo by Daniel Cespedes)
Contestants often have to troubleshoot in real time. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.

“Our goal is to really get students interested in science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — and connect them with marine technicians and engineers and marine scientists that utilize remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs,” Tracy Crews, the manager of Oregon Sea Grant’s marine education program and OSU Extension Service, said in the video.

Thirty-one teams from Oregon participated in this year’s competition, which was held in April at the pool at the Lincoln City Community Center. More than 200 students from elementary school through college demonstrated devices they built.

“For students who struggle with conventional school, it’s a chance for them to really shine,” Melissa Steinman, a teacher at Waldport High School, said in the video.

Contestants operate their underwater devices remotely, and sometimes with a video monitor. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.
Contestants operate their underwater devices remotely, and sometimes with a video monitor. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.

A new theme is chosen each year. This year’s theme highlighted the role of remotely operated vehicles in monitoring the environment and supporting industries in port cities. Like port managers and marine researchers, the students guided their robots through tasks that simulated identifying cargo containers that fell overboard, repairing equipment, and taking samples of hypothetically contaminated sediment and shellfish. Students also presented marketing materials they created and gave engineering presentations.

“A couple of teams, they just nailed it,” Ken Sexton, one of the judges and owner of The Sexton Corp., said in the video.

Contestants in MATE ROV competition learn engineering and problem solving skills. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.
Contestants in MATE ROV competition learn engineering and problem solving skills. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.

Students were also tasked with creating mock companies, thinking like entrepreneurs and working together to “manufacture, market, and sell” their robots. The students gained project management and communication skills as they managed a budget, worked as a team, brainstormed solutions and delivered presentations.

“Some of my team members are really, really good at programming, now,” Natalie DeWitt, a senior at Newport High School, said in the video. “And we have one kid who is really good at using CAD software design, now. And they actually had internships over the summer … those experiences we had in robotics gave us qualifications for jobs that we wouldn’t have had before.”

“It’s really good problem-solving, teamwork, just everything all together. It really helps … you have better skills for the future,” said Kyle Brown, a junior at Bandon High School.

Robotics poster presentation by a team from Newport High School. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.
Robotics poster presentation by a team from Newport High School. Photo: Daniel Cespedes.

Photos from the 2017 contest in Oregon are on Oregon Sea Grant’s Flickr page at c.kr/s/aHskYZdMiF

 

People Profiles give us an opportunity to get to know our colleagues a little better. Say hello to Tracy Crews, Oregon Sea Grant marine education manager.

 

Tracy Crews on the Oregon beach near Yachats.
Tracy Crews on the Oregon beach near Yachats.

What is your connection to Sea Grant Extension? I oversee the youth and family programs, as well as professional development educator at Hatfield Marine Science Center, connecting participants to coastal and marine research. I also coordinate programming for the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, which serves coastal communities from Astoria to Brookings.

How long have you been doing outreach and engagement work? I started out my career as a graduate research assistant for Virginia Sea Grant’s Marine Advisory Program working on fisheries-related issues and have been engaged in some form of outreach and education ever since.

What’s the best job you’ve ever had? My current position. Over the nine years I have held this position, I have worked with a wonderful group of employees and partners and have been able to grow the program in exciting new ways to meet the changing needs of our stakeholders. Developing the statewide underwater robotics competition is just one example.

What’s the best part of your current job? Empowering people and seeing them develop new skills, whether it is my staff, educators, or students. Witnessing the excitement and pride of others as they accomplish new things is extremely gratifying.

Where did you grow up? A little town called Jollyville, Texas, in the hill country surrounding Austin. It has since been developed and incorporated and is now officially part of Austin.

Willow, the Golden Retreiver, and Misty, the cat.
Willow, the Golden Retriever, and Misty, the cat.

Do you have any pets? A golden retriever named Willow and a cat named Misty.

Do you have any hobbies? Living in Yachats, I love to spend time at the beach and gardening, and  I am an avid crafter.

Where is the last best place you went on vacation? At the end of every summer, my son and I travel to a different place in the world. Last summer it was Fiji. This summer, we are headed to the Big Island of Hawaii.

On horseback in Fiji.
On horseback in Fiji.

If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be? As a kid growing up in land-locked Texas watching Jacques Cousteau, I really would have loved to have a chance to meet him in person as he set me on the path that has led me to where I am today.

What was your favorite subject in school? Biology (no surprise there!).

Based on a Digital Measures impact report by Stacey Sowders and Patrick Willis, Oregon State University Extension Service 4-H Youth Development, Metro Region

 

Mariachi STEAM Summer Camp rehearsal, summer of 2017. Photo: Ann Murphy.
Mariachi STEAM Summer Camp rehearsal, summer of 2017. Photo: Ann Murphy.

Mariachi STEAM Summer Camp offers middle and high school Hispanic musicians an immersive musical experience while emphasizing exploration of STEAM topics (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics).

Hispanic students are currently the largest minority group in the Oregon public school system, and they score lower than national averages on math and science tests. Their participation and success in higher education is also significantly lower than other youth populations. Using music as the common denominator, the Mariachi STEAM Summer Camp stimulates curiosity about and interest in STEAM careers.

The Mariachi STEAM Summer Camp is the brainchild of Romanna Flores, a dedicated 4-H STEM volunteer and Intel employee. Started in 2016 and now in its second year, the camp has created enthusiastic participants and supporters.

“I did not think college was an opportunity for me before this camp.” Student testimonial

In 2016, underserved youth from diverse schools in Portland, Hillsboro and Forest Grove participated in a five-day residential Mariachi Camp on the OSU campus in Corvallis. Music-focused activities introduced students to music theory and audio processing concepts, and connected music to STEAM concepts, all while advancing their music performance skills. Activities included:

  • Assembling a musical greeting card with electrical components
  • Digital audio recording
  • Three-dimensional model construction and printing
  • Rehearsals
  • Performances
Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez, assistant professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez, assistant professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, helps student with a science and math activity. Photo: Alice Phillips.

Students learned to analyze the properties of audio signals from their own digitally recorded music files using MATLAB. OSU’s Dr. Cotilla-Sanchez introduced basic filtering techniques and demonstrated the math behind those filters.

Intel volunteers led a technology workshop that combined digital audio editing with an introduction to hardware and electronics. The result was a personalized musical greeting card.

Oregon State University students led recreational activities and provided invaluable guidance to college preparedness and expectations.

 

Quotes from the 2016 cohort:

“I feel like it would be fun just to push our limits and see more parts of OSU and their classes and what it takes to be in OSU.”

 

“After learning about the technology … I wanted more time because of how fun it was.”

 

“I loved to learn about the technology like MATLAB and making music with SoundTrap. Now I can make music anytime anywhere!”

 

2016 camp leadership included:

  • Romanna Flores – Intel Project Manager (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers)
  • Richard Flores – Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
  • Daniel Bosshardt – Hillsboro School District (Music Instructor)
  • Lesslie Nunez – Forest Grove School District (Music Instructor)
  • Sativa Cruz – OSU Student, Graduate Research – Environmental Sciences

Funding was provided by the 4-H Foundation, Oregon State University Precollege Program, Hillsboro School District, Intel, individual donors, registration fees from families, and in-kind donations by OSU Extension 4-H in Washington County.

2016 Mariachi STEAM Summer Camp participants are ready for the final camp performance dressed in traditional Mariachi costumes.
2016 Mariachi STEAM Summer Camp participants are ready for the final camp performance dressed in traditional Mariachi costumes.

At the request of the 2016 cohort, the 2017 program expanded to a seven-day and six-night experience. It continues the tradition of music rehearsals, music theory and composition and the history of Mariachi music, all culminating in a concert.

Throughout each day, math, science and technology activities engage the 30-youth cohort. Several high school graduates from the 2016 inaugural cohort returned in 2017 to work as camp counselors. Other students from last year had such a memorable experience they returned for a second year of Mariachi Camp.

A little about Mariachi

  • In 2011, UNESCO recognized mariachi, a hard-hitting, lively music, as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.
  • The music originated in the center-west of Mexico. Over the decades, the music that transformed from a regional rural folk music into an urban form of music that is viewed as quintessentially Mexican.
  • A 10-day International Mariachi Festival is held each year in Guadalajara. It attracts more than 500 mariachis (bands), who perform in concert halls and city streets.
  • Traditional mariachi instruments are trumpets; violins; guitar; the vihuela, a high-pitched, round-backed guitar that provides rhythm; and a bass guitar called a guitarrón, which also provides rhythm. Six violins, two trumpets, and one each of the guitar, vihuela and guitarrón makes up the ideal mariachi band.
  • Historically, mariachi groups have been made up of men but there is growing acceptance of female mariachis.
  • Big-city radio stations, movie studios, and record companies took mariachi music to new audiences throughout Mexico and abroad beginning in the 1930s.
  • There is not a lead singer in Mariachi.  Everyone in the ensemble does some vocalization even if it is just during the chorus parts.

Sources: Wikipedia, Smithsonian, TeacherVision