Are They Real? One Professor’s Art Challenges Perception

In the next 24 hours, one to five plant and/or animals species will vanish into ecological history leaving only images for future generations to view. For Darlene Farris-Labar, an associate art professor at East Stroudsburg University, pictures are not enough and she is working to preserve plant species through joining of ecology, art, and technology to ensure that future generations can hold these geometric wonders in their hands. Darlene reasons that “there is so much beauty within the natural world. I am greatly fascinated by how nature has engineered its endless forms and colors. Each life form possess a specific role and function that is meant to keep the natural environment thriving.” 3D printing is her method of choice to generate awareness about the importance of each plant species to the ecosystem and preserve them for future generations.

darlene-farris-labarDarlene Farris-Labar spent half of summer of 2014 teaching herself about the software programs associated with 3D printing. Nowadays, Darlene uses several design programs to make her 3D art, because each program is stronger in certain areas and can help solve specific technical issues in the design process. She favors the program called 3D Rhino, because she “enjoys using design programs that allow the creative process to flow without having to deal with many technical glitches that can be defeating to both spontaneous creativity and valuable time.” After the design is created and refined, Darlene prints the image with a Stratasys Dimensions Elite 3D printer. A white form emerges from the printer.

For the last year, Darlene painted each of her flowers by hand with acrylic paint. She has even used nail polish, because of large number of flower shades. That said, she recently started using Adobe Photoshop to add texture and color during the design process. She says, “when I illustrate the flowers in 3D, I become an explorer that leads me to experience the flowers with a greater perspective. The process of designing the flowers is incredibly enlightening for me. I venture into new worlds that further expand my knowledge and appreciation of the planet. I always feel a bit wiser at the completion of each work.” The result of her effort is an even more lifelike piece of art.

photo-3Like the flowers they represent, Darlene’s 3D flowers are fairly fragile. The sharper bends and petal tips can be broken off when handled roughly. That has not stopped a select few of the 3D printed flowers from traveling around the world. In 2015, Darlene’s 3D printed flowers represented the world of 3D printing at a traveling, international exhibit called the 3D Print Show. Her work is frequently showcased in the Pocono area, too! For more information about upcoming shows, including one in conjunction with the Pocono Environmental Education center and a display at the Philadelphia Flower Show, visit Darlene’s website,

By Amy Gouger

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