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The Orion

The creativity behind ‘Idea Fab Labs’

Anna Porretta

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Everyone has a creative spark inside of them, no matter how thick their shell is. All that spark needs is a safe, nurturing place to peck it’s way out: a laboratory. A laboratory which facilitates not only experimentation but community. Perhaps it takes an Idea Fab Lab, home to gallery walls, a fancy laser cutter and a vibrant artistic community.

The Orion sat down with Carly Santa and Art Incubator Schuyler Willis under the hypnotic, flashing, LED ceiling to learn a little more about Idea Fab Labs’ mission within the art world.

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Schuyler Willis and Carly Santa tell us about Idea Fab Labs. Photo credit: Sean Martens

What do you do at Fab Labs?

Carly Santa: I am Lab Lead at Idea Fab Labs in Chico, I take care of daily operations and our volunteer team.

Tell me a little about the Fab Lab.

CS: Fab Lab is short for Idea Fabrication Laboratory. We are a gym for technology, you pay a fee every month and you get to come in and use equipment you wouldn’t ordinarily have access to. We allow people to work on projects that they otherwise wouldn’t have the ability to create.

We have an art incubator program. An incubator is brought in and given a crash course on the equipment and given a time frame to produce 30 pieces or more. And then at the end of that period, if it’s successful, we throw a gallery opening for them.

We hang all the art and price it. We have various DJ’s and musical artists perform. This room makes for a nice sized dance floor and everyone gets down and has fun. We’ll have a food truck, a full bar, we always do a special menu for the shows.

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An abstract laser woodcut piece mounted on the wall of the lab. Photo credit: Sean Martens

What is your goal at the Fab Lab?

CS: To show as many people as possible that anyone can be an artist.

A lot of people come here unsure of their artistic abilities and what we like to say is, ‘give us a month’. Give us a month to show you how to use the tools and we’ll show you what you’re capable of. We want to show everyone that they’re capable in artistic ways. It’s not just one type of person that’s artistic, everyone is artistic.

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Some laser woodcuts all laying in a row. Photo credit: Sean Martens

What do you think you bring to the Chico community?

CS: We bring the ability to work with these tools, Chico didn’t have a maker’s space community before. We bring the ability for anybody– a student, a mom, a young person, anyone– to use this equipment. Digital fabrication is really huge and we bring that to Chico for people to learn how to use. It’s going to be great for them in the future when digital fabrication becomes larger than it is now.

We do facilitate the growth of artists. We facilitate them realizing that they are artists.

What makes your work important?

CS: Our work is important because what is life without art? I can’t imagine it.

Where do you think this organization is going in the future?

CS: I would like to see us continue to grow and gain more members. Seeing a makers space pop up is always a good thing. I’d like to see us get larger.

(At this point Schuyler Willis, current Art Incubator at The Fab Lab had walked over and sat down with us.)

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Geometric piece, hanging in the main room of the Fab Lab. Photo credit: Sean Martens

Tell me about a memorable event or memory you have at the Fab Lab?

Schuyler Willis: This is an inherited memory but there’s Marty the Dead Rat. (The Fab Lab) used to be a lizard breeding facility. There was a mummified rat beneath the floor who became our mascot. I wish I got to know him better.

Carly Santa: The last show we did we had this thing called ‘The Pyrosphere’ set up. It has a big flame thrower on the top that is controlled by making a ball in a basketball hoop. I got to run that which was awesome. Just being in charge of the giant flame thrower.

Also, every year we have a makers showcase where any member or anyone from the public can put in a piece of art. We have artists from all over the community and the lab gets a little spot, everyone gets to show their own flare.

SW: It brings a ton of people together.

CS: Just community, we’re all about community.

The Idea Fab Lab in Chico will be showing Schuyler Willis’ collection entitled Hypnotheque, which he described as an archive of dreams and aesthetic.

The Fab Lab gallery is open to the public Mondays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. More information can be found on their Facebook.

Anna Porretta can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_arts on Twitter.

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The creativity behind ‘Idea Fab Labs’