CFAR Project Incubator artist Brian Gillis

A tall bookcase with doors and drawers

Brian Gillis is the first of four artists to be featured in the CFAR Project Incubator series spanning the 2023-24 academic year. The series is a partnership between the Knight Campus and the College of Design / Center for Art Research (CFAR). Gillis started his series, titled "Service Objects," on Oct. 9 and will conclude on Nov. 3.

CFAR affords artists working in any medium the opportunity to explore and conceptualize new work as a part of a vibrant, interdisciplinary research community that is supported by cutting-edge facilities and technical staff. This program is born out of CFAR and Knight Campus’s goals to create nimble systems that catalyze innovation and discovery by responding to the needs of individual’s specific research agendas. The incubator's emphasis is not necessarily on the production of a body of work, but instead on speculative, practice-based inquiry focused on ideation, experimentation, prototyping, testing, fabricating, and theoretical research to initiate and incubate new work.

"With a recent acknowledgment that 'service' is a foundational principle in my practice, I have begun to see all the ways that this applies to interventions in public spaces, partnerships with individuals and communities, and the production of objects for use," said Gillis. "I’m thinking more and more about objects that provide a resource for users and have come to the concept of “Service Objects” as a possible way to exercise this potential."

The concept of Gillis' project is to look at the utility of objects as they "support the acquisition of skills or knowledge related to social equity, access, and agency." Examples will draw on Gillis' own history, including learning to pick locks and DIY tattooing. Some objects will be made to publicly support institutional missions, like a mobile story archive, kiosk for instructional videos, or human-generated power supply. A goal of his project is to model and test objects to produce finished pieces for immediate use.

Learn more about CFAR and all of the scheduled artists for this year's incubator series. The CFAR Project Incubator series is made possible by a grant from the Ford Family Foundation.