July 18, 2017
Assistant Professor of Art Jonathan Monaghan works on his sculpture.

Assistant Professor Jonathan Monaghan was a resident artist at the 2017 Digital Stone Project (DSP) in Gramolazzo, Italy, earlier this summer, one of only 13 university educators and students from around the world selected to share their research and work on marble sculptures during the monthlong program.

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Monaghan

DSP applies cutting-edge techniques in 3D modeling software and robotic technology to the ancient tradition of marble stone carving. Monaghan’s final sculpture from the project is on display at the ExMarmi Arts Center in the medieval town of Pietrasanta, until the end of July.

Pietrasanta has been a hub for for artists and sculptors since the 15th century. “From Michelangelo to [Colombian sculptor Fernando] Botero, numerous famous sculptors have lived and work there,” noted Monaghan who spent the month of June in Italy.

Monaghan’s invitation to apply for the DSP stemmed from his research, which utilizes both 3D digital animation and digital fabrication techniques such as 3D printing. Last spring, Monaghan designed a sculptural three-dimensional computer model titled Alien Baroque. In Italy, Monaghan’s sculpture was machined in marble using a seven-axis robotic arm at the Garfagnana Innovazione fabrication facility and then finished by hand.

“Alien Baroque is an unsettling and otherworldly sculpture in white Carrara marble,” said Monaghan. “The surface of the sculpture references a furniture-like skin, and is ornamented with 3D-printed gold details. The work appears like a luxury decorative object from an uncertain future. Dealing with fears and desires surrounding technology and wealth, the work is a study in contrasts; both organic and synthetic, historical and futuristic, soft and hard, physical and virtual.”


Monaghan works across a range of media, including prints, sculpture, and animated video, to produce otherworldly objects and narratives. Drawing on wide-ranging sources, such as historical artworks and science fiction, his  works elicit subconscious anxieties associated with technology and materialism. Past exhibitions and screenings of Monaghan's work have taken place at the Sundance Film Festival, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center.