By Kim Foli Ikpo, Texas A&M University College of Engineering
What do art and engineering have in common? More than you might think.
This past semester, a group of engineering students at Texas A&M University has been working closely with an artist from New York to help her design a new smoke painting tool. Rosemarie Fiore isn’t a traditional painter. Instead of using paint brushes and paint, she uses fireworks and colorful smoke to create beautiful large-scale paintings.
Last month, about 100 people from the community witnessed Fiore create a new piece destined for the Zachry Engineering Education Complex. The team of students assisted during the performance, bringing Fiore new fireworks and helping her load them onto the tool they designed. That tool — Bring Your A Frame — was based off an earlier design Fiore created, but was modified to be more efficient.
Fiore said that art and engineering often work in tandem.
“They rely on each other and can create great things when applied together,” she said. “I think engineering is at its best when it extends beyond the mechanical into creativity and design.”
Fiore began smoke painting several years ago after accidentally burning herself with fireworks on the 4th of July. She instinctively dropped the fireworks and as it rolled across the pavement, it left behind a beautiful mark. Since then, Fiore has focused almost solely on smoke painting.
“The entire smoke painting process fascinates me, but what intrigues me the most is the way smoke reacts to changes in the environment,” she said. “The weather, temperature, air pressure and inversion all affect how smoke behaves.”