August 2, 2016
This past June and July, the HMCT hosted two sessions of DaVinci Camp [davinci-camp.com] at Archetype Press. DaVinci summer camp is an intense learning experience focused on studying STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art+Design, and Math. STEAM encourages the integration of art and design as an innovative force to expand creativity and abstract conceptualization, boosting student retention in engineering and applied sciences. This is the core foundation of the DaVinci Camp that integrates social and academic components from the arts and applied sciences. Founded in 1993 by Douglas Varela [a graduate of UC Berkeley, MIT, and Caltech], the program promotes academic excellence and strives to eliminate the achievement gap among Latino students and other underrepresented races and genders. It is designed to develop the interests and abilities of talented and highly motivated middle school and high school students.
For four days, six hours a day, and under the guidance of instructor Margaret Jensen, Archetype Press was home to the DaVinci Camp students. After an intense morning of learning mathematics and science at their Caltech studio, the students then spent the afternoon learning how to hand-set type and letterpress print. Archetype press was an ideal environment for exercising engineering, mathematics, and art+design skills.
Using the vast type foundry, and the hands-on analog technologies of Archetype Press, the DaVinci Camp students were challenged to create and design “typographic mythological gods,” and then letterpress print them on Vandercook proof presses. Students developed an intimate relationship with the letterforms of the metal and wood foundry typefaces at Archetype, and transformed them into spirited objects of play and creativity. They worked in teams to navigate design problem-solving including spatial reasoning, color mixing, and typographic narrative choices. Due to the inherent nature of hand-set type, exact measuring and mathematics are often required, creating a unique challenge for the students to practice transitions seamlessly from their analytical minds to their creative minds and back again. The students were challenged to be wrong, try multiple ideas, and intuitively make decisions. This process of creating was just as valuable as the results.
Together with DaVinci Camp, HMCT and Archetype Press hope that we can provide future academic and culturally enriched experiences that improve the opportunities for students to live a fuller and richer life.