Art Department expands digital art offering
August 10, 2021
Cornell College Artists find new ways to interact with technology as a new professor introduces more digital art courses into the class program.
While digital art has been taught in recent years, 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 for creating and experiencing art,” said McKenzie.
During his first year teaching One Course At A Time, he focused about a week of the 3½ week block on a program within the Adobe suite, including Photoshop, Premiere, and Illustrator. He covered concepts such as graphic design, photo manipulation, animation, and video editing.
“You learn very quickly on the Block plan“Said McKenzie. “I was impressed with how quickly people went from no experience to a good level of skill with these programs because they can be quite complicated.”
Senior Ella Fogarty joined Cornell as a transfer student and has enjoyed expanding her knowledge of the subjects McKenzie teaches.
“I was really excited that digital art classes were being offered because my previous school had a limited number of digital art classes and I’ve always been interested,” said Fogarty. “My favorite project was probably a short animation we did in Adobe Photoshop because I felt I had a lot of freedom to experiment while practicing the skills I learned in class.”
Animation is another digital art theme that McKenzie would like to expand at Cornell. In fact, last spring he first taught a new course called Advanced Digital Art. It focused on stop motion and hand-drawn animation.
“I really enjoyed doing animation in the classes and I experimented with that more over the summer,” said Fogarty. “I also enjoyed combining the skills I learned in these courses with my previous experience in traditional art, for example drawing frames by hand and sequencing them into animation using Photoshop or another program . ”
And these two digital art courses are just the beginning for the Institute for Art and Art History.
“We are currently consolidating the course offerings and are working on building a larger curriculum with courses related to digital art,” said McKenzie. “At some point there will be a course that is exclusively dedicated to graphic design and a course for sound design production, as well as some courses on projection art, projection mapping, working with video and installing it in rooms and not just on the screen.”
In addition, Cornell will have a future Mac computer lab on the fourth floor of McWethy Hall for digital art classes and creations.
While these courses and future plans produce well-rounded artists, these experiences also extend well beyond the visual arts to many different careers.
“I think whether you want to be a visual artist or something else, these are tools of contemporary communication,” McKenzie said. “Business, science, really everything – many of these skills can be implemented in the communication of information and ideas that are easy to digest and visually accessible, which I think is important regardless of your subject or field of study. “
As for Fogarty, she plans a career in the visual arts industry.
“I would like to do something that has animation or digital illustration in it,” Fogarty said. “The skills I have learned in these courses are things that I believe I will build on as I pursue this field.”
McKenzie started at Cornell in 2020 and enjoys researching and studying sound design and sound design installation, digital and internet culture and memetics. He previously taught at the Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, North Carolina, and his work has recently been shown at the Mint Museum of Art in (Charlotte, North Carolina), the 500X Gallery (Dallas, Texas), and Project 1612 (Peoria, Illinois) issued ). He holds an MFA in Time-Based Arts from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.