MAD Museum’s Current Exhibition Displays Cutting Edge 3D Printing

In Columbus Circle, the Museum of Art and Design has a large statue outside the building

If you've ever wondered what this whole 3D printing thing is about–or, even better, if you're already pretty familiar with digital fabrication, and want to see to just how far the technology is being pushed right now–exploring the new Out of Hand exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design is a terrific way to spend an afternoon.

As a bonus, MAD has a semi-supplemental show going on at the same time, an overview of the amazing things artists are doing today with that most ancient of art forms, ceramics. Called Body & Soul, it's wonderfully engaging, if a little freaky. Nice to see this often-overlooked museum filling its space with all sorts of cool objects and helpful teaching tools.

On display at the Museum of Art and Design is this 3D printing sculpture from the Out of Hand exhibitionOn display at the MAD museum's Out of Hand exhibition is this 3D printing sculpture of white high heels

Out of Hand 3D Printing Exhibition

Out of Hand features three floors of fantastic digitally fabricated creations, defined by curator Ron Labaco as anything using "computer-assisted production". There are works by plenty of famous artists, architects, and designers, including Chuck Close (who we last saw at the Chelsea Art Galleries last year), Zaha Hadid, Ron Arad, Anish Kapoor (check out his past artwork at the Gladstone in 2012), and Roxy Paine, and these are generally a lot of fun to look at and marvel over. But what made the Out of Hand exhibition so especially appealing for me and my teenage companion was the clear overview it provides of the many ways 3D printers, predicted to soon be as common as today's paper printers, are actually being used in the real world right now: for art, for commerce, for fun. When we were there, a woman was scanning eager volunteers (using an Xbox kinect), turning them into plastic "action figures", and patiently answering all 232 of my questions. And upstairs on the sixth floor there are more people willing to tell you about all of this stuff in MAD's open studio area. Really great.  

Image of four of the Museum of Arts and Design's Body & Soul exhibition ceramic statues

Body & Soul Exhibition at MAD

Also at MAD through the winter is Body & Soul, featuring an incredible collection of new international ceramics by some 25 renowned artists. Although not necessarily "computer assisted", the Body & Soul exhibition seemed to me a nice complement to Out of Hand, in that these are cutting edge designs, executed with often surprising materials, taking the familiar medium into astonishing new territory. Many of the pieces in the show tend to be on the creepy side, but that only increased their appeal to us. Taken together, Body & Soul and Out of Hand makes for a great family-with-older-kids outing.

From the MAD Body & Soul exhibition is this ceramic sculpture of a girl with big red lips wearing a yellow bathing suit

More Information: Out of Hand 3D Printing Exhibition

Out of Hand will be at the Museum of Arts and Design through June 1, 2014; Body & Soul will be there through March 2. MAD on the south arc of of Columbus Circle, as is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00; open late on Thursdays and Fridays, until 9:00 p.m. You can find more information on the Museum of Arts and Design website.

What other museums in New York City have you been to lately? Tell us in the comments what your current favorite exhibition is!

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