August 10, 2021
Cornell College artists find new ways to interact with technology as a new teacher introduces more digital art lessons into classroom programming.
While digital art has been taught for a few years, the assistant professor of Art Alex McKenzie added his own expertise to the class.
“The course provides students with a framework for contemporary art practice in which the computer is both a tool and a place to create and experience art,” McKenzie said.
In his first year of teaching one course at a time, he focused on a three-and-a-half-week block week on an Adobe suite program including Photoshop, Premiere, and Illustrator. He has covered concepts such as graphic design, photo manipulation, animation, and video editing.
“You learn very quickly on the block plan,” McKenzie said. “I was impressed with how quickly people went from no experience to a good amount of skill with these programs because they can be quite complicated. “
Senior Ella Fogarty came to Cornell as a transfer student and enjoyed learning more about the topics McKenzie taught.
“I was really excited that digital art classes were offered as my previous school only had a limited number of digital art classes and that’s something I’ve always wanted to pursue,” said declared Fogarty. “My favorite project was probably a short animation we did in Adobe Photoshop, as I felt like I had a lot of freedom to experiment while also putting into practice the skills we had learned in class. ”
Animation is another digital art subject McKenzie is excited to explore at Cornell. In fact, he first taught a new course last spring called Advanced Digital Art. He focused on stop motion and hand-drawn animation.
“I really enjoyed doing the animation in the classes, and it’s something that I experienced more over the summer,” Fogarty said. “I also appreciated being able to combine the skills I learned in these courses with my previous experience in traditional art, for example drawing frames by hand and using Photoshop or another program. to sequence them in an animation. ”
And these two digital art courses are just the start for the Department of Art and Art History.
“We are currently strengthening the course offerings and working on creating a broader course curriculum around digital art,” McKenzie said. “Finally, there will be a course entirely dedicated to graphic design and a course dedicated to sound design production, and courses related to the art of projection, projection mapping, working with video and video. ‘installing these in spaces rather than just on the screen. ”
Additionally, in the future, Cornell will have a Mac computer lab on the fourth floor of McWethy Hall for digital art classes and creation.
While these courses and future plans create well-rounded artists, these experiences also extend far beyond the realm of fine arts in many different careers.
“I think it doesn’t matter if you want to be a good artist or whatever, these are contemporary communication tools,” McKenzie said. “Business, science, really anything – a lot of these skills can translate into communicating information. and ideas that are easy to digest and visually attainable, which I think is important regardless of your field or field of study.
As for Fogarty, she plans to pursue a career in the visual arts industry.
“I would love to do something that involves animation or digital illustration,” Fogarty said. “The skills I learned in these courses are things that I think I will build on as I pursue this area. ”
McKenzie started at Cornell in 2020 and enjoys researching and studying sound design and sound design installation, digital and internet literacy, and memetics. He previously taught at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, NC, and his work has recently been exhibited at the Mint Museum of Art in (Charlotte, NC), the 500X Gallery (Dallas, TX) and the Project 1612 (Peoria, Illinois). ). He holds an MFA in Time-Based Art from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.