Exhibit fights for drawing’s life

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Photo by Joy Shan.

Weeks before hosting a symposium titled “Is Drawing Dead?”, the Yale School of Architecture’s current student exhibition takes a step back to honor the basics of the craft.

Composed of approximately 24 pieces hand-drawn by students last semester, “Visualizing Form” went up Jan. 17 on the third floor of Rudolph Hall. The show runs alongside the symposium taking place Feb. 9-11, which aims to answer the question “What value does drawing still have in architecture?”, said Victor Agran, an architecture professor involved with the symposium.

“The answer is complicated, but can also be answered simply — drawing has tremendous value in architecture,” said Agran.

Yet while drawing is a fundamental skill for architects, most of the final models students produce in the studios of Rudolph Hall are designed with digital 3-D modeling software, Linda Lee ARC ’13 said in an email. However, she said, drawing is is an essential exercise in the design process. While computer graphics bring projects to a finish, most architects still use sketches to develop their concepts, said Lee, whose work is on display in the exhibit.

“Visualizing Form” draws on work from the courses “Processing & Presentation,” “Form and Representation” and “Formal Analysis,” with pieces ranging from geometrical illusions to three-dimensional cutout cityscapes. At the same time, the school’s upcoming symposium will feature three days’ worth of lectures exploring the definition of drawing in the past and present, Agran said. In the age of digital production, he said, the thinking stage is harder to come by and drawing is atool to help it along.

Agran said that under the leadership of Dean Robert A.M. Stern, Yale’s School of Architecture has begun to place a heavier emphasis on drawing in the past five years.

Though many universities prioritize computer-generated graphics, Yale’s focus on developing drawing skills gives student-architects an additional tool for creative discovery, Alexander Chabla ARC ‘13 said. The “Roman Architecture” seminar, for instance, requires intensive hand-drawing assignments, he said.

Chabla’s piece in the student exhibition, a paper relief drawing titled “Precedent Analysis: Richard Galpin,” emerged out of an interrogation of the work of artist Richard Galpin and attempts “to create a new reading of the urban environment” through the pulled in and out fragments of his piece.

The painstaking process of drawing calls for more “concentration” and “critical analysis,” architecture major Mateus Benarros ’13 said. Even if one erases a line, he said, part of the mark will always remain on the paper.

“[Drawing] allows you to use the mistakes you’ve made to see something you wouldn’t see if you simply deleted it, leaving no traces behind,” Benarros said. “The use of computer, the digital approach, works faster and is generally more clear. When using computers, the process almost gets lost, leaving the final composition to speak for the entire project.”

The student exhibition coincides with another exhibit at the School of Architecture featuring about 160 paintings, drawings and watercolor works by Italian architect and artist Massimo Scolari. The show, “Representation of Architecture,” focuses on the relationship between drawing and buildings and will run Feb. 6 through May 4.

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