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UT Students Featured in Multimedia Art Show

Published: October 31, 2008
University of Tampa senior Aaron David Cook knows the importance of diversifying. That’s why the artist, musician, animator and storyteller uses everything in his toolbox when creating Flash animations.

On Saturday, Nov. 1, Cook will be among seven UT students and alumni whose work will be featured in a digital art showcase dubbed “The Connext Project,” in Clearwater’s Coachman Park. The outdoor exhibit, which runs from 5-10 p.m., will feature technologically driven art created by students from several Tampa Bay area colleges. The pieces incorporate elements of animation, motion graphics, experimental film and international electronic music.

“The inspiration behind it is that there’s just so much commercial art out there that gets taken for granted,” said Christian Leon, coordinator of the event.

A multicultural affairs specialist with Bright House Networks, Leon became acquainted with UT art professors Santiago Echeverry and Douglas Southerland through the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery’s annual Electronics Alive show.

Among the 14 UT pieces included in the project is Cook’s Flash animation titled “Circus.” The piece, which Cook says represents a storyboard for a larger project, tells a story of a nameless character who becomes mesmerized by a circus trapeze artist. Having first sketched the story on paper, Cook scanned the images into a computer and used Flash to animate the story.

Similarly, UT senior Drake Arnold uses Flash animations in each of his three pieces being featured in the Connext Project. Telling darkly humorous stories in each of his animations, Arnold incorporates a diverse cast of characters into his works, including space aliens, a minimum wage worker and TV’s the Crocodile Hunter.

Other UT students showcasing work in the Connext Project are Sebastian Ballester, Palmer Holmes, and Mike Seitzler, as well as alumni Katie Rice and Sarah Kelly.

All of the UT participants are majoring in one of UT’s multiple digital arts-related programs. The electronic media arts and technology major caters specifically to the type of artwork showcased at the Connext Project, incorporating elements of traditional art forms with computer graphics, web design and digital imaging.

Each of the pieces featured in the event will be shown simultaneously on five separate video screens in the park. Selected pieces created by professional Hollywood animators and artists will also be shown.

The project, organized and sponsored by Bright House Networks and MTV Tr3s, will also feature samples of international food, beer and wine. 

Admission is $5, and proceeds will be divided evenly between the participating schools for use in improvements to their respective art programs, Leon said.
Coachman Park is located at 301 Drew St. in Clearwater. For more information, see the Connext Project’s Web site .