Artist Kevin Caron's booth at Sculpture Tucson 2022There’s nothing like interacting with the public to get a snapshot of how 3D printing is perceived.

I got a big dose of that perspective at the 2022 Sculpture Tucson Festival March 18 – 20. It was a smashing success, with nearly 50 sculptors, 900 – 1100 visitors and more than $200,000 in sales.

The festival was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid, so this year felt truly special. The artists were pleased to see each other – sculptors are a collegial bunch – and to share how the pandemic had affected their work.

For me, the hiatus revealed a huge shift toward 3D printing. Even though I work in metal in my main studio Monday through Thursday and mostly do my 3D printing during the evenings and weekends, the bulk of my exhibit was 3D-printed sculpture. I had 5 metal sculptures, some quite large, but my booth was filled with luminous and lively filament-based sculptures and energized by my Cerberus 3D 250 3D printer, which I had running throughout the event.

Many people remembered me from previous festivals and were thrilled to see – and buy – new work, especially my painted sculptures like Seymora seussicus (below) and my Wabi-sabi organic appearing sculptures like Flicker and Ruby. Also popular are my lighted sculptures, including Satin She, which went home with new owners.

What really fascinated me, though, were the discussions, including 1 huge shift ….

In past years at Sculpture Tucson and every other event I’ve done, when talk turned to 3D printing, the subject of #$)^&*%* 3D-printed guns came up. As I’ve explained in a previous post, I hate this discussion, because it’s all about fear with very little reality involved, and so it puts 3D printing into an unfair negative light.Seymora seussicus, a large format, hand painted, 3D printed sculpture - Kevin Caron

This year, though, only 2 people brought up 3D-printed guns. Dozens of people, thankfully, brought up the fact that houses are now being 3D printed. Of course, this has been going on for a while, but it was news to many people. Then, of course, we’d talk about 3D printing body parts, dentistry, printing tools on the Space Station and many other positive applications of this amazing technology.

I was gratified by this shift, and by the sales of my sculpture, including a dozen 3D-printed artworks.

Now I’m looking forward to the art show “Illuminate” I was invited to participate this August 12 – September 9 at Art HQ in Surprise, Arizona. It focuses solely on lighted works, and I’m especially excited because, boy, does translucent filament love light! I can’t wait to talk to more people about the positive aspects of this amazing technology.