Norwood Viviano is the Sculpture Emphasis Coordinator in the Department of Visual and Media Arts at Grand Valley State University and is responsible for a full service foundry and fabrication studio. Viviano utilizes digital 3D modeling and printing technology in combination with ancient metal casting processes to create his sculptural works. His quest to push the limits of rapid prototyping technology (originally designed for the automotive industry) has led to collaborative efforts with engineers and industry specialists. Viviano is known for his First Generation Artifacts, a body of work that explores the desiccation of Italian immigrant heirlooms over time.His most recent research and creative interests include issues related to industry and population shift in the manufacturing cities of Michigan.
He has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Royal College of Art, London, Ox-Bow School Art and Artists' Residency, Saugatuck, Michigan and a studio Committee Member at the SIGRAPH Technology Conference, Los Angelas. His work has been exhibited at Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago; Esther Claypool Gallery, Seattle; Revolution Gallery, Ferndale, Michigan and the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, Staten Island, New York.
I became interested in creating this work after attempting to research the possessions that Italian Immigrants brought to America. The difficulty I had in finding specific records of possessions inspired me to create a record of my own. I chose to focus on objects brought to America during the great immigration of the early 20th century. These objects embody the Italy and culture the immigrants left behind, but also contain many of the hopes and dreams for a future in the New World.
Stories and family traditions are built around their possessions, which in many cases, are the only traces from the first generation. I am fascinated by these artifacts for a number of reasons. These objects were created in a time when handwork and craft were considered the only mode of construction; they embody the personality of their place and time. IT is easy to see the hand of the maker and the wear from the original owner in these century old objects.
I was interested in casting these objects in bronze to archive the originals in their current condition and impede their further deterioration. Soon after arriving to America, many immigrants found it necessary to embrace traditions of the New World and leave their old century and the stories that surrounded them have since disappeared. In some cases, oral traditions have allowed some members of the first generation to live on and a few of their possessions to survive.
Norwood Viviano currently holds a position as an Associate Professor and Sculpture Program Coordinator at Grand Valley State University where he teaches 3D Design in Foundations, a variety of sculpture courses, and a class exploring computer 3D modeling and digital fabrication.