The Louie Awards are Materializing

May 29, 2024 - Dorene DiNaro

The traditional golden Lobo Louie bobblehead award is getting a new look.

Sovelove 2 light

(photo: Tyler Sovelove scans Louie bobblehead for printing)

 For the past 15 years, Student Affairs has been recognizing and celebrating staff, faculty, departments, and student employees at the annual Louie Awards ceremony—a themed event complete with decorations, food, and a golden Lobo Louie bobblehead for the winners. This year, the coveted awards are materializing thanks to ARTSLab, an interdisciplinary makerspace within the College of Fine Arts (CFA) whose pillars are Art, Research, Technology and Science.

Each year, Natalie Brigance, executive assistant to the vice president for Student Affairs (VPSA), and Louie ceremony coordinator, digs into Student Affairs’ Lobo Louie bobblehead stash, breaks out her gold spray paint, and prepares the sought-after statue for its yearly appearance.

This year, due to a shortage in the stash, an extremely limited restocking option to buy 500 in bulk, and a price increase, the VPSA office is teaming up with ARTSLab to create a one-of-a-kind golden Louie—minus the bobble— that will make its debut at the award ceremony.

“Because buying the bobbleheads in bulk was neither ideal nor cost effective, we decided to look at other options that were similar and still conveyed the look and feel of the traditional golden Louie statue award,” Brigance said.

Coincidentally, Dr. Florencio Olguin, director of operations for Student Affairs, and former academic operations officer in the CFA Dean’s Office, had an idea and a connection. He suggested Brigance work with ARTSLab to print the Louie on their 3D printer.

“Professor Stewart Copeland and his team at ARTSLab had previously used 3D printing technology to create a life-size Lobo for CFA’s inaugural ArtsSplash event in 2022,” Olguin said. “So, I knew they could help us with our conundrum and that it would be a great way for Student Affairs to collaborate with CFA faculty to showcase their incredible work.”

Golden Louie scanEnter Tyler Sovelove, an undergraduate student—and soon-to-be Meow Wolf employee—who has worked at ARTSLab for the past year and was assigned the duty of printing this year’s awards.

 “ARTSLab is a really exciting place to work,” he said. “Besides gaining a lot of technical knowledge and skill, one of the best things I took from the experience was learning how to work collaboratively and make art by drawing from many different mediums,” he said.

(photo: 3D model rendering)

 Sovelove said that everyone at ARTSLab has an artistic background and they often don’t collaborate with other artists but instead work with people from sciences, humanities, or departments like Student Affairs.“I think it’s really easy for departments at the university to be insular, but ARTSLab offers an opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration,” he said.

 Over the past year, Sovelove has worked on projects with filmmakers, documentarians, photographers, printmakers, sculptors, biologists, musicians, computer scientists, dancers, and people from many more backgrounds. He said the experience of working on so many diverse projects helped him understand how the collaborative process can succeed in building something greater than any individual.

 And, while the construction of the Louie award is relatively small in comparison to some of his other projects, it requires a different level of detail and experimentation to ensure the quickest and cleanest result. The creation process involves placing the sample bobblehead on a pedestal in a well-lit room and using a powerful 3D scanner to catch Louie’s every angle.

 “The scanner is essentially capturing thousands of photos of the object, isolating it from the background, and stitching them together,” he said. Once that process is complete, he enters the data into 3D software to turn it into a complete, clean, watertight, ready-to- print model.

 After a few test prints to find the best print setting, and experimenting with a few different support methods, the Louie was perfected, printed, and ready for its gold finish. Sovelove’s completed Louie will premiere at this year’s ceremony on Tuesday, June 4, from 3-5 p.m. in the Student Union Building, Ballroom C.

 Subsequently, Sovelove has since graduated and is leaving the University to take a job at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe—leaving his position at ARTSLab open to another aspiring Lobo. He hopes in the future more students are made aware about the ARTS Lab, and how they can work in it. “A lot of students I talk to don’t know about the space and if they do, they’re unsure about how they can work in it, so I hope people realize that the space is modular and can accommodate many different types of projects,” he said.

 He is planning on bringing not only the technical knowledge working with light, sound, projection and other new media technology experience he gained from his work in the ARTS Lab, but also the mindset and ability to collaborate with people from different backgrounds to his new job.

 However, as Sovelove exits the University, he is leaving the door open for future collaborations with UNM. “I believe that one of the best things about ARTSLab is how it fosters a collaborative and open environment for people from all backgrounds at the university,” he said. “This allows art to be a part of the greater conversation at the university and folks from other backgrounds the opportunity to examine their work from new perspectives.”

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