The Chaffee Art Center was buzzing with activity Wednesday night as it hosted the opening of the Stafford Technical Center Digital Arts Program’s spring exhibition.
With the exception of face masks and the occasional physical distancing booster, the show looked like a return to normal after a school year overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Visitors moved from exhibit to exhibit while students mingled with friends and told passers-by about their plans.
The opening was the first time some students got to meet their classmates, said Karen Kysar, digital arts teacher at STC.
“It was really magical. Some kids have never seen each other in person, ”she said, explaining that although the year started with only four students choosing to be totally distant, around 60% of the class had switched to learning. virtual before Christmas. She noted, however, that more students had returned to in-person learning in recent weeks.
The Chaffee Show, open to the public until Sunday, features art projects from the 19 students of the program across a wide range of media, including graphic design, digital illustration, digital photography, video games, animation and the music.
Kysar said many of the pieces are student final projects and reflect what they are most passionate about.
This passion was apparent even before entering the Chaffee on Wednesday night as the accents of Max Crowley’s sophomore neoclassical rock opera, “Evil Suite, Opus 1,” burst from a speaker just outside. outside the main entrance.
Crowley said he played all the instruments himself, citing Henry Purcell and Beethoven as influences.
“It’s almost like walking through heaven and hell at the same time,” he said of the play. “It’s beautiful, but it’s also bad at the same time.”
Inside, junior Dan Larsen performed another piece of music, “Cold Summer,” an original instrumental arrangement he recorded in his bedroom during the pandemic.
He said the article was inspired by the period of last year’s pandemic when the world was in quarantine, which he compared to the unproductive, but darker, summer vacation periods.
“I wanted to capture that feeling of just being isolated, of feeling alone, but also of needing an emotional release,” he said.
Second-year student Christopher Valle-Downes posted a colorful anime-inspired illustration depicting him and his brother.
Valle-Downes said he drew the photo by hand and finished it digitally.
The two figures face each other in battle-ready poses with the words “power” and “hope” written on them in Japanese characters.
“We both have somewhat opposite personalities. So I wanted to prove it on paper, ”he said.
A third musical piece was presented by junior Bailey Pettis.
An aspiring musician who wishes to study music theory in college, Pettis has composed a three-song EP, “Places in Time, Vol. 1.”
Each track in the EP is based on a different time of day and is associated with original animations that reflect a particular mood.
“One aspect of music that I’ve always been connected with is music that tells a story or has a theme,” Pettis said, explaining that she takes inspiration from musical pieces, like “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky.
Nearby, Emelia McCalla showcased her graphic design skills with a variety of projects she’s worked on this year, including posters, dust jacket and labels for her father’s hot sauce business.
The junior said she took an advanced graphic design course at Community College of Vermont this year, where she was able to hone her skills.
McCalla said she was especially proud to have the opportunity to design a vehicle wrap for the new food truck for a local catering company.
“I made their logo and their branding,” she said.
McCalla said she plans to attend Castleton University for a year in early fall and hopes to eventually become a professional graphic designer.
A final musical exhibition was courtesy of Javin Neilson.
Neilson composed a piece called “Constructed World” using a MIDI drum pad to create a textured electronic soundscape.
“The idea I had was to create a series of songs that reminded me of certain places,” he said, adding that he wanted to see if people could understand those places by listening to the songs.
A track, for example, captures the hectic, bustling energy of a metro station.
Neilson, who will be attending Husson University in Maine this fall where he plans to study music production, said the project required experimentation and “a lot of stuff to throw at the wall and see what sticks.”
Junior Dylan Wilcox is another student who hopes to capitalize on his interests in a career.
Wilcox designed a pair of video games, which visitors could try out on Wednesday.
In one, a player could drive a tank along a track and knock down various obstacles.
Wilcox, who said the game took him around six hours to create, said he wanted to become a video game designer.
“It’s a growing industry, so it’s definitely something to jump on. “
Kysar praised the students for creating such impressive work during such a difficult time and took issue with the idea that the students had not learned anything this school year.
She said that despite their struggles, she has witnessed a lot of personal growth and resilience, which she called “amazing.”
“The kids have changed the way they think,” she said. “They are so dedicated to their families and give up so much to protect their family members. They are learning something that we could never teach in school.