June 6, 2022
Contact: Marcus Wilkins, email@example.com
Florida’s Gulf Coast — where cerulean sky, teal water and white sand elegantly layer the horizon — is a lovely place to realize one’s dreams. So said a group of five University of Missouri digital storytelling students who shared their art May 13–14, 2022, at the festival known as Digital Graffiti at Alys Beach.
Featuring multimedia works projected onto the town’s trademark white architecture, the event showcases the latest in digital art, film, animation and other formats. More than 40 international artists contributed to the festival, now in its 15th year.
Nine Mizzou students’ art was displayed (some couldn’t attend because of commencement): Reese Betts, Savannah Calhoun, Luna Dike, Meaghan Fleming, Maddy Gomez, Summer Parker, Audrey Roloff, Alec Schuetz and Chris Toms.
Leading the group was Katina Bitsicas, new media artist and assistant professor in the School of Visual Studies whose art also adorns the interior of the NextGen Precision Health Institute. Her video art piece, “Vivid Light,” employs activated forms of colored oil and water overlayed with family video footage and animation to grapple with the emotions following her father’s death.
“It is valuable for students to be there in person, and to see their work projected at this scale,” said Bitsicas, who first contributed to the festival as an artist in 2016. “We spent about 20 hours over three days setting up the students’ projects. Of course there are always technical glitches — nothing ever goes perfectly when you’re dealing with technology — and that’s part of the process.”
Although the festival primarily displays the work of professional artists, the Mizzou group joined a contingency from the Savannah College of Art and Design, led by the festival’s curator John Colette, as the only student participants.
“This allowed me to show my work to a large audience for the first time and receive beneficial criticism and praise,” said Fleming. “I learned so much about how to improve and I’m extremely excited to bring those lessons to reality. Attending truly transformed my life in multiple ways.”
The MU students’ collective artist statement describes their work as an exploration of societal issues through “historical references, personal experiences and controversial theories” that “plays with the architecture of the unit either through scale, color or illusion.”
“Digital Graffiti solidified my motivation to never stop working towards my goal because art is my passion and I know I can make it into a career,” said Gomez. “Words cannot express how emotional it was for me to experience networking with other talented and fantastic artists while also getting to showcase work of my own and talk about it.”