TECHNOLOGY + CREATIVE EXPLORATION
KCAI’s Department of Converging Media’s innovative program in Interactive Arts views technology as a medium for artistic expression far out-reaching its original intent. Through a wide array of electives, students become versed in software coding, physical computing and sensors, system dynamics, feedback and rapid prototyping, user testing, and experiential design. Students are given the opportunity to integrate and experiment with digital as well as analog media to produce highly engaging and compelling works. Using these emerging technologies alongside video, audio, and virtual or augmented reality also allows students to produce site-specific installation, performance, and interactive environments. The curriculum incorporates classes in Animation, Filmmaking, Photography and Sound Art. Sound and its production acts as a foundation for an understanding of computation, social space, cognition, and thinking in systems.
Major studies culminate during the senior year in studio courses devoted to producing projects and a completed thesis work. Students follow through on conceptual brainstorming, sketching, model-making, preliminary builds, production schedule, and enfolding feedback for refinement and a fully functioning experience.
This approach prepares students to enter the field with an informed perspective, strong portfolio and well-rounded sense of artistic and technical confidence.
Associate Professor & Chair
Tom Lewis is Chair of the Department of Converging Media including Photography, Filmmaking, Animation and Interactive Arts. He taught photography and new media at KCAI in 2001 through 2003 and joined the Foundation faculty in 2005, becoming Director of the School of the Foundation Year in 2012-2013 before moving to the Chairs position in the Department of Converging Media in 2013. He joined the KCAI faculty after having taught at the University of Washington School of Art, Seattle. While there, he also served as an assistant to Rod Slemmons at Crux Photographic Restoration and he assisted Michael Van Horn, curator for “After Art – Rethinking 150 Years of Photography,” at the Joseph and Elaine Monson Collection. He was co-founder and manager of CORE 317, an alternative space in Denver, and completed an internship at the International Center of Photography in New York. Lewis studied at KCAI on a Presidential Merit Scholarship and went on to earn a B.F.A. degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an M.F.A. degree from the University of Washington, where he held the Jane and David Davis Fellowship and Parnasuss Endowment. Tom is interested in the intersection of early lens based drawing and the materiality of photography. He works in both photography and large-scale graphite drawings. His work has been exhibited at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, among others and is represented in a number of private collections.
Dwight Frizzell, an alumnus of KCAI, is an internationally recognized artist whose interdisciplinary work combines video, performance, installation, music, audio art, and writing. His projects emphasize research and a commonality between the fine and performing arts. Frizzell’s work about his boyhood neighbor, Harry S. Truman, was featured in the Peabody-awarded “Lost and Found Sound” series broadcast on National Public Radio. His art pieces have been shown at major international galleries. Currently, Frizzell is developing an opera based on the life of Charles Darwin. In addition to his B.F.A. degree from KCAI, he holds a terminal fine arts degree in Sound Design from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Diana Heise’s practice engages video, photography, performance, installation, film, writing, sculpture, public intervention, and sound. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and festivals internationally. She is currently a resident artist at Review Studios in Kansas City. After receiving a research grant from Vassar College, she published research on Slovene art collectives in Global and Local Art Histories. Her curatorial projects include exhibitions with several acclaimed artists. Heise holds an M.F.A. degree in photography, video and related media from the School of Visual Arts and a B.A. degree in art history from Vassar College.
Cyan Meeks is a digital artist with a trans-disciplinary approach, blending installation, performance, filmmaking, sonic design, curation and media study. Both her collaborative and solo works have been exhibited internationally. She received first place awards from the American Film Institute and the New York Film Festival, and received a grant from the National Park Service. Her commercial work in music has received accolades by NME and Spin magazines. Meeks received her B.F.A. degree in new media from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1995; studied for her M.F.A. degree at the California Institute of the Arts in 1997; and completed her M.F.A. in media studies at State University of New York in 2003.
David Overholt’s studies and research have covered areas of art, graphic design, technology, communications, urban architecture, psychology, sociology, philosophy, theology, and more. His main areas of focus include web and new media applications, rapid prototyping, usability testing, and user-centered and experiential design. Overholt received his B.A. degree in graphic design from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego and a Master of Professional Studies from Tisch School of the Arts’ Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University.
Once you declare your major, interactive arts students take the following core courses as they progress from sophomore to senior year. For additional electives and liberal arts courses download the complete Course Catalog.
- Basic of Interactivity
- Intro to Interfaces
- Rapid Prototyping
- Physical Computing
- Sound for Screen & Space
- The Performative Gesture
- Intermediate Digital Studio
- Projection Mapping
- Dynamic A/V Exploration
- Senior Studio I & II
View Samples of our work
Professional practice is a compulsory component of the KCAI program in which students benefit enormously from insights provided by world-renowned visiting artists, scholars and professionals.
All interactive arts students must have a laptop computer.
Jobs + Internships
Job opportunities for interactive arts majors include: Artists and designers for user experience, interface, interaction, lighting, sound, and game play. KCAI interactive arts majors have worked or interned for the following studios and companies: Hint, Barkley, Launch Media, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Fantasy Flight Games, Tripwire Interactive.