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Building digital arts communities.

Today, schools across the country are interested in launching digital arts programs for their students. A case in point: Many schools in the United States and overseas have requested a free copy of my digital painting, Bobette. (SchoolArts, September 2002) to use as a tool in the classroom to teach kids of all ages how to paint digitally. Students everywhere learned to change the mood and expressive power of this painting by altering shapes and changing colors.

Creating Multiple Versions

This approach extends the life cycle of the painting and provides students with the ability to express their artistic freedom in experimenting with multiple versions of the same painting. The result is a new way of looking at the evolution of a painting via its multiple derivatives.

The benefits of this approach to painting digitally do not stop there. I have launched digital arts programs, not only in schools but also in children's museums and in nursing homes, in order to build communities of people who use my digital paintings. So far, participating organizations in these digital programs feature the Capital Children's Museum in Washington, DC; the Chesapeake Children's Museum in Annapolis, MD; the Richmond Children's Museum in Richmond, VA; many schools in the U.S. and abroad; and the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington in Rockville, MD.

One important purpose for these programs is to help individuals discover the joys of digital arts while finding new avenues for creative expression.

Working Collaboratively

Via these programs, students have an opportunity to manipulate digital paintings collaboratively with other students, with nursing home residents, and with children in various museums. Such exchanges pave the way to a better appreciation for the arts while building communities of digital artists nationally and possibly globally.

This vision is relevant to schools today as they seek to show students new and innovative uses for the computer. The outcome of such usage can translate into many worthwhile products that students can develop collaboratively.

To facilitate this process, I have developed many modules that schools can use to help their students create a variety of digital-arts based products. These modules are available to classrooms around the country for a small fee to recoup development costs.

Establishing User Groups

Via these modules, educators and students learn how to manipulate digital paintings, how to track their evolution, and how to create new releases. In addition, students learn how to establish user groups and decide on revisions and enhancements they want to implement to digital artworks.

School-age students are only limited by their imagination in the types of digital products they may want to create. For instance, they can develop digital arts games, cartoons, storybooks, posters, and much more.

This approach is similar to the way software products are developed today for the marketplace. Most software products undergo a life cycle of their own and are subject to enhancements and modifications, often submitted by user groups.

Developing Computer Skills

By teaching students this approach to painting digitally, schools can perform a valuable service for students of all ages. Students not only learn how to transform a digital painting for their enjoyment, they also develop an understanding of the way software is developed.

Students also learn how to be tolerant in collaborating with others to create products based on their digital paintings. Plus, they are exposed to new ways of looking at a given painting. This stretches their imagination and enables them to expand their creativity in many contexts.

Building Creative Communities

Schools are no longer insular when they engage their students in Internet-based digital arts activities, which promote the building of creative communities of artists around the world. This way, schools can better leverage the use of their computers in classrooms and become full participants in the Internet artistic community. In addition, schools can take advantage of their websites to display the digital paintings produced by their students. This allows schools to show to their communities the creative work that is done inside the classrooms by students of all ages.

To learn more about how your school can be a participant in these innovative digital arts programs to benefit their student populations or to request information on digital arts modules for the classroom, contact me at floribert@aol.com. You can view my collection of digital paintings entitled "For the Good of the Whole" at www.modemarts. com.

Flora Iacchia is a digital artist residing in Fairfax, Virginia.

NATIONAL STANDARD

Students understand and apply media, techniques, and processes.
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Title Annotation:New Technologies
Author:Iacchia, Flora
Publication:School Arts
Date:Oct 1, 2003
Words:747
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