Digital Arts in Portland | With Craig Hickman, Fall 2011

“By Manipulating the Data. . . .
I Can Make . . . .” –Grahame Bywater

Olivia Storm

“The students have a big passion and energy, a genuine interest in the possibilities that digital processes offer them to create captivating work.  The combination of material exploration and digital processes in cunning ways explore a wide range of rich, psychological content”

Damien Gilley responds to reviewing the student work from the Digital Arts program in Portland

Every term, the level of industriousness and creativity in University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts in Portland’s Digital Arts program seems to leap with new energetic bounds fueled by the proclivities of emerging artists.  Fall 2011 students were guided by Craig Hickman.  Students searched, collected, built, drew, cut, photographed, edited, realized, and uncovered ideas that they explored with a sense of their own unique human ability to manipulate.  That strength and capability to change the digital world by imposing or allowing in the aspect of human touch and vulnerability emerged as a fundamental theme.

The weeks progressed and I watched them work, their intent and rapture in their process always captivating.   We smelled and watched and listened as they poured, sprayed, hung, projected, and felt the work develop.  Gradually, the Digital Arts pieces came together, textures emerged, surfaces hardened, light changed and things dripped, dried, and sought out wall space:   we looked forward to the final outcome.  Sometimes, pieces broke, didn’t dry or cure, or just didn’t seem what was intended, and were redone.  Some pieces, once hung on a stark wall, were fiercely alluring evoking cinematic horror, others were dazzling in 1980s day-glo.  We saw projections that were mesmerizing with repetition, photographs and phrases swooning with the broken-hearts of social-media rejection, and quizical QR codes that urged one to clamor for the nearest iphone.  The range of imagery and connotation was extensive:  many works revealed a fascination with the mixology of culture and history; others explored a nod to popular iconography, or examined imagery they could contain in bold woodcut-like large scale pieces to more delicate explorations with print-like fragility.  But this array, overall, illustrated the great effort put into creating something with meaningful content and the students fantastic diligence to actualize works exemplifying a sense of exploration and experimentation.

The instructor, Craig Hickman and the students decided fairly early on in the term that the final review for their fall-term work would be held in January 2012.  Winter term ushered in John Park as Portland’s Digital Arts on-site instructor with Craig Hickman returning to participate in the review sessions.  Hickman was joined by Lindsay AuCoin, Avantika Bawa, Damien Gilley, Sara Huston, Colin Ives, Sam Jeibmann, John Leahy, Victor Maldonado, Karen Munro, Wendy March, Andrew Parnell, Matthew Pfliiger, Michael Salter, Blake Shell, Ying Tan, Kartz Ucci,  Kate Wagle, Jennifer Wall, Colin Williams, and Andrew van Dyk.

Following the review I asked the reviewers to comment on what they saw.  Blake Shell, Archer Gallery Director | Department of Art Instructor at Washington State University said, “I found the work to be varied and strong this term.  I was impressed and even inspired for my own work by the conversation….”   Craig Hickman further expounded, “The reviews ….are a significant motivator for our students.  There is no substitute for real-world knowledge and experience interaction and feedback from professionals who can provide.”  He continued adding that the students “in the Digital Arts BFA program [take] the reviews very seriously.  They prepared carefully and thoughtfully and remarked on the usefulness of the comments from reviewers.  [Their] work was diverse, but I believe the thread tying it all together was a focus on and response to contemporary culture.”

Michael Salter noting that “pretty much the reason [he] decided to teach art” was for the review sessions, emphasized the importance of the review and the development of the student work:   “We consider these student reviews vital to the experience of our Digital Art’s BFA’s.  We are so grateful for the people who take time from their busy schedules to participate….I expect [the students’ work] will be heavily influenced by the critique.”  He said, “the reviews guarantee each student will look closely at their motivations, their ideas and how to best communicate them.”  And, indeed, much gratitude is owed to the reviewers for providing their professional expertise and guidance.

The following students exhibited work in the January review; most provided their artistic statements for inclusion in this blog:

Grahame Bywater | Joseph Centanni | Keith Chaloux | Leah Chan | Brett Ciccarello | Michael Cooper  | Paul Pederson | Amanda Riebe | McKenzie Sampson | Brian Schmidt | Keith Stedman | Olivia Storm | Trevin Swick | Christine Thomas | Yekaterina Vitkovskaya


Leah Chan | My work is an exploration to rediscover my cultural identity. Representing myself through the exploration of merging and overlapping images in the world that I grew up in
Leah Chan
Christine Thomas

Michael Cooper | These works are taking tangible materials to relay a digital concept and language. A simplified analog format to convey a more elaborate digital one.
Yekaterina Vitkovskaya | Using the language of horror films, I create loose narrative through a series of illustrations that combine digital and fine art techniques. The transgressive nature of horror films allows me to explore the relationship between art and its viewers and the feeling of anxiety which comes from participating in this medium.
Yekaterina Vitkovskaya
Amanda Riebe | My work centers around issues of identity and the ways we as individuals choose to present ourselves, both through real life interactions as well as online social media profiles. I am interested in the differences between our online identities versus our physical identities, and why these differences exist.
Keith Stedman
Keith Stedman
Olivia Storm
Keith Chaloux | I am interested in contemporary representational movements, reconciling themes of cosmic inter-connectivity and the deconstruction of formal drawing elements. "Composition 3"
Keith Chaloux
Keith Chaloux
Amanda Riebe
Amanda Riebe
Craig Hickman, Michael Salter and Olivia Storm.
McKenzie Sampson | Using mixed media on canvas and ply-board, I will be exploring the emotional connection and relationships between individuals. Allowing the viewer to create a narrative, judgement, or interpretation through facial features, postures, and the exaggerated imperfections of the human body. "Bro Love"
MacKenzie Sampson

Joseph Tyler "Bow-Ty" Centanni | I have found there is something beautiful about using Art as a means to get everything I want out of life. I will hold a casual business meeting with my fears, politely asking them why they've been starting rumors about me being a lazy boss. "Bow-Ty's Year of Songs"
Keith Stedman and reviewer | faculty member, John Leahy.
Craig Hickman, Karen Munro and Leah Chan.
Michael Cooper with reviewers discuss and implement his QR code.
Brian Schmidt | Whenever we go someplace, we end up not where we wanted but where we needed to go. "Inspired to Be There"
Grahame Bywater | Take some deep conversation, a few good noises, and a series of remarkable moving images and put them all into a blender and turn it on. And then put the blender in a fish tank with some fish looking at it go, and that's essentially what I am doing with art. I make illiteral literate litter.
Paul Pederson | Conceptual in nature, I am less likely to have my own hand show in the work, but rather, I like to allow our complex human systems and structures put their own fingerprint on my work. To see more of Paul Pederson's work, see his website, With reviewers Colin Ives, Wendy March, Sam Jeibmann, and Andrew Parnell.
Amanda Riebe
Keith Chaloux with John Park, Damien Gilley, and John Leahy.
Trevin Swick with Ying Tan, Andrew van Dyk, Colin Williams and Victor Maldonado.
Michael Salter, Victor Maldonado, and Damien Gilley.

Christine Thomas | Detail

Christine Thomas | Detail