Graphic Design professor creates exhibit using led installations

Laura Scholl works with LED lights in preparation for her show.

Assistant Professor of Graphic Design and Digital Art Laura Scholl is the first faculty member to present her exhibit at a Newman University Steckline Gallery Final Friday event.

Scholl’s exhibit, “Resonate with Stillness, Experience Light,” was the seventh show of the 2016-2017 season. She created her piece using mixed media and electronic art installation work, and “interwove fiber optics into gold- leafed canvases,” she said. “The fiber optics are then lit by LED lights, which are controlled by microprocessors.”

Out of the 14 canvases, Scholl created six that interact to motion detection. “When it’s still, the images will be still, and if it detects movement, the lights will start changing,” Scholl said.

Scholl has been an artist for more than 30 years, including 15 years working in feature film production in Los Angeles. Her film credits include the Oscar-nominated films “The Fifth Element,” “Disney’s Dinosaur,” “Hollow Man,” “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

Scholl earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Master of Visual Studies from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Media Lab under the School of Architecture. In 2014, she moved to Wichita to pursue her personal artwork and began teaching at Newman in 2015.

At Newman, Scholl introduced Processing, an open source Java-based software library for visual artists, in her Intro to Computer Graphics course in fall 2015. She drew on her curriculum development for this course and her Design 1 and 2 courses as a source of inspiration for her performative drawings.

Scholl hopes her art encourages viewers to relax and forget the busyness of everyday life: “These pieces are meditative. I want the audience to be present, in the moment, and experience the music with the visuals bringing them into a state of focus and delight.”

Scholl’s pieces first displayed when she collaborated with Wichita State University’s Impulse Percussion Group for a concert in November 2016. This collaboration takes advantage of her digital art and computer graphics specialty in lighting with live percussive music to create a moving, pulsing work of fine art.

“My own personal artwork has always been about light,” Scholl said. “Without light, we don’t see anything. Light brings things to life. To me it represents the light of consciousness; the works have a sense of purity, and this is what compels me to work with light.”

Scholl said that she received help and encouragement from several people, particularly Tom McGuire of Make ICT and sophomore Natalie Espino-Kennedy who helped connect the fiber optics for the original LED format.

“Everyone was a huge help,” Scholl said. “The (WSU) student musicians were very passionate and great to work with, and I learned a tremendous amount from this experience.”

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