After a long road of commissions and odd jobs, Thomas Schneider found his calling.
Schneider, lecturer in the School of Art and Design, found his passion for teaching art after bouncing from major to major during college and working in the film industry.
A run of sculpting commissions led to his landing a job on a movie set. He sculpted scenes for “The Dark Knight,” “The Bourne Legacy” and “True Grit.”
Schneider decided to move into teaching after working in the movie industry for five years.
“I’ve always been drawn to teaching,” Schneider said. “I like helping people and seeing that spark when a student gets a great idea.”
He began teaching 3-D design and sculpting techniques, much like he would use on the movie set. Soon he became interested not only in the students’ projects but the kinds of material they were using.
Schneider’s interest in reusing materials was sparked when he worked on movie sets.
“After each movie all the material we used would be thrown away, and nobody has tried to implement a recycling program,” Schneider said.
Schneider encourages his 3-D design class to use material they find on the curb or in a dumpster.
“Last semester, I asked the class to make a sitting device, while not buying any of the material,” Schneider said. “Adam (Dugger) had a dynamite idea and knocked my socks off.”
Dugger, photography senior, built a clear plastic box and put rocks, soil and other earth materials into the container. He then incorporated a deconstructed La-Z-Boy chair he found on Craigslist.
Dugger said the idea was to create a controlled composition and simulate the biosphere of the earth.
“I was interested in how the materials could be reused and how long it would take them to decompose,” Dugger said. “It’s a great idea to use things that we would usually throw away and make them transcendent of themselves and beautiful.”
Another way to use art struck Schneider’s curiosity while instructing students on the idea of reusing materials: utilizing it to power homes and communities. Schneider said his goal is to start a non-profit to incorporate art and renewable energy into low-income areas.
Thomas May, lecturer in the School of Art and Design, said Schneider has looked into the kinetic side of art to power his idea. A moving part of the art would be connected to a motor, or the actual piece would be made of solar panels to generate energy.
“For art to be more than art, for it to be a power source, is revolutionary,” May said. “The ultimate goal is find out how art can be visually pleasing and sustain life.”