Frankie Flood

Frankie Flood is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee where he teaches Digital Fabrication and Design and is Director of the Digital Craft Research Lab (DCRL) at UWM. Flood is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he received his Master of Fine Art degree in Metalsmithing.

Frankie Flood’s interest in machines and tools and the influence of his working class upbringing is a source of inspiration for the functional objects that he creates. Flood exhibits his work nationally and internationally and his work has received many awards and has been published widely. The connection between design and fabrication and how each is influenced by material and process has been the focus of Flood’s recent research as he continues to combine traditional craft practice with digital technology. His recent design research regarding 3D printed prosthetics and one of a kind adaptive devices has spread worldwide and his creation of UWM’s DCRL has created new areas of study for students interested in digital fabrication.

Within the last three years Frankie has been granted $135,000 in personal and educational grant funding by the National Endowment for the Arts, the UWM Digital Future Grant, The Mary Tingley Grant (Greater Milwaukee Foundation), The UWM Graduate School Research Committee, and The Peter S. Reed Foundation for his research in digital technology for the production of art. In addition, Frankie was recently awarded a UWM Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award to recognize excellence in teaching.

Artist Statement: 

As a child, I was fascinated by how things “worked”, and I recall taking things apart for the sole reason of figuring out the inner “workings” of the device. Growing up in a rural farming community provided me with an understanding of machines and a deep interest in the objects associated with labor; tools. This interest has led me to build numerous tools and machines that I use to create my work. These machines that make have led me to explore the role traditional Craft plays in our society and in a world that is dominated by rapidly changing technologies.

We live in a time where we are able to navigate to different parts of the world with the click of a mouse, complex information is accessible within seconds, and we are able to connect with communities that bring a diverse skill-set to a particular problem. We have never lived in such a time, where all of these things are possible. Technology is allowing people from around the world to collaborate in ways never imagined before and is breaking down barriers created between disciplines. Information can be shared freely and rapidly improved upon. The craftsman's abilities to problem solve and address the needs of others, through making, are of the greatest value at this time in our lives.

I am devoted to a simple goal… to move the art and technology of Craft forward by looking to the past. I am an artist, with the hands of a craftsman, the mind of an engineer and the imagination of a dreamer. I blend traditional hand crafted artistry with cutting edge technology using methods from: industry, the tech lab, metalsmiths, machinists, computer programmers, and “blue sky” inventors. With this work I hope to fuse the history of object making with the future of Craft; leading Art, Craft, and Design into new areas that allow the artist to use his/her potential to make an impact upon society.

With this work I get to do one of the most wonderful things imaginable, and that is, create new and innovative one of a kind objects. Taking everyday materials, metal, silicon, binary code; I mold, shape, and transform them into living Objects, with vitality, emotion and soul. I believe in the power of these living Objects to help tell a story. Bold, distinctive and enduring stories that make a difference in the lives of the people who use them.

My work investigates one of a kind objects and their role in a world based on mechanical reproduction. Industry has removed the aura from objects and stripped them of their individuality. My pizza cutters seek to demolish the sterile conformity of mass produced objects and represent the stylistic and flamboyant embellishment of groups who live on the fringe of popular culture. My machined pizza cutters draw inspiration from chopper motorcycles and attempt to reclaim the mythology and economic usefulness of the American worker as patriarch; translating machine or functional object into flesh and blood. The outlaw as defiant nonconformist, as well as social outcast, parallels being an artist who makes functional objects and being an individual who takes pride in the power of invention and skill.

Ready to Visit?

Arts + Literature Laboratory is located in Madison’s Schenk-Atwood neighborhood at 2021 Winnebago Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53704.

Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday 11am-3pm during exhibitions or by appointment. Please check the exhibitions calendar before planning your visit, as the gallery is closed between exhibitions and other schedule changes are posted here.


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