Students Strut Their Stuff at Digital Arts Showcase 

Chris Lovecchio’s Asbury Park photograph was taken on the beach in an April fog

In an ever-evolving digital world, with artificial intelligence (AI) rearing its head at every corner, artists have been faced with the decision to develop new skills or perfect existing ones. Students at SUNY Westchester Peekskill Center for the Digital Arts are eager to show how they have taken emerging technologies into their own hands.   

The Digital Arts Gallery will present a student showcase from February 2 to April 26 — a fitting tribute for the center’s 30th anniversary — featuring work from students and alumni across curriculums. The student showcase’s reception will be held on Thursday, February 22, from 5:30 pm–7:30 pm at 27 North Division Street, and is open to the public. 

River Journal North caught up with a few of the showcase’s headlining talents to see how they think they fit in with — or stand out from — the artists of today, and how they think AI fits into their creative process. 

Photographer Chris Lovecchio of Mohegan Lake shares that his goal is to tell a story in a photograph through its structure, design and setting. His submission for the student showcase is a photo of the ocean at Asbury Park, and he sees the photo as more than just a moment in time. In fact, he sees it as a moment in any time: “[A photograph] should always be timeless — a meaning and emotion that could have been captured 100 years ago and then discovered and still understood 200 years from now.  The Asbury Park photograph was taken in color on the beach in an April fog, and [now] in black and white, I try to capture a memory or invoke and uncover a forgotten moment of wonder. “  

Lovecchio considers digital photography to be the most accessible medium of the moment but has always wanted to explore multidimensional media to undiscover creative possibilities.  

‘I don’t see AI as an answer’ — Cameron Lada, who created this 3D character design

In the future, Lovecchio’s exploration may lead to more AI-powered tools, but for now, he prefers to make his adjustments manually. “My commitment is to create something there is no model for, something I have not yet seen.”  

Digital artist Cameron Lada, a resident of Croton-on-Hudson with a degree in graphic design, is enrolled in the SUNY Center’s 3D Animation/Modeling workforce certificate program. He has been captivated by 3D media in video games and animated shows since childhood, but he also found inspiration in his mother’s designs and in Keith Haring’s art books.   

“Over time, and especially through my college years,” Lada said, “my style has become more realistic/confident, and my minimalist works are more polished. I’ve learned to plan out everything before executing for a better and more accurate result, to not be afraid to start over and try different methods, and to make multiple iterations of my works to have options.” 

Lada’s 3D character was created for the program’s stylized character project, encouraging students to draw inspiration from online personas or characters.  “My character was inspired by a combination of … ‘Invader Zim,’ my professor Joe Thomas’s stylized version of Hermione Granger, and various illustrations of people in work attire … I wanted to do a character who was somewhat relatable and could fit in a variety of digital realities.” 

Lada currently works in product design in the clothing industry while continuing the 3D certification program, a combination that proves to be productive as the clothing industry advances with digital media. “The industry has been moving toward using 3D modeling programs to create accurate representations to show what will be produced while reducing sampling,” Lada shared. 

As to where Lada sees AI playing a role? For now, it really doesn’t, and perhaps it never will. “I maybe see myself using it as a tool or source of inspiration in the future, but I don’t see AI as an answer,” he stated. “AI functions by sourcing from peoples’ work online, so AI can only evolve as far as work that’s already out in the world; plus I like creating art, not necessarily generating it.” 

Stephanie Conte, a River Journal regular contributor, is a resident of Peekskill. 

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About the Author: Stephanie Conte