A dinosaur-bunny hybrid, a crocodile’s head on the body of an ostrich, a gecko with wings — these are only a few of the creatures students have created this semester in the WorldBuilding Program.
The brainchild of Graded alumnus Diego Dolph Johnson ’98, this new after-school STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) activity serves 34 Middle and High School students. Johnson, who double majored in political science and studio art at Swarthmore College, currently teaches art, maintains a studio practice, and serves as a board member of the Nemirovsky Foundation at the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo.
Inspired by the curriculum at California’s ArtCenter College of Design, Johnson created the WorldBuilding Program to teach students contemporary design processes. From 2D sketching and planning to 3D construction and printing, the program is divided into three separate, but interconnected, modules — Concept Art, Clay Sculpting, and 3D Sculpting. His students learn how to design characters, creatures, props, and environments using 2D and 3D software, tablets and stylus pens, as well as animation clay and 3D printers.
"A Gecko with Wings." Designed by Clara V. (junior).
Students are only limited by the boundaries of their creativity. "We draw and paint things that no one else would. Here, we can imagine our own things,” asserts Tobias D. E., a seventh grader in the program.
WorldBuilding allows participants to develop their art and design skills. "I now know more about values and hues, light and darkness, and how to use these principles. And now we’re starting [to learn about] environmental art,” explains junior Clara V.
Sophomore Lara D. R. is enthusiastic about the exposure to art and design she is gaining. "It’s a great opportunity to learn more about digital art, the fastest growing sector of art nowadays. It also forces you to be creative.”
"I think this program is really helping me evolve as an artist,” adds Clara V. "I would like to study animation in college, and the geometric construction we learn here serves as a basis for animation. You have to create characters that make sense at every angle.”
According to Johnson, he intends on "developing WorldBuilding into a design sharing platform that provides students the opportunity to collaborate creatively, taking over each others’ designs and transforming ideas into drawings, and drawings into clay and 3D printed objects."
Johnson also aspires to collaborate with other Graded departments. "I hope to develop synergy with the robotics, film, and programming areas by working collaboratively on robot shell designs and 3D objects for game development and animation."
Seventh grader Axel Z. uses a computer and drawing pad to “see the world differently.”
WorldBuilders’ unique designs are currently showcased outside Graded’s Auditorium.
Learn more about the 2019 WorldBuilding Program here.