Arts Tech Expo gives artists, communicators opportunity to display efforts
The third floor of the University Commons at Millikin University was buzzing with arts and activity on Tuesday, Dec. 7, as the 2021 Arts Technology Expo took place. Students majoring in arts technology, multimedia communication and beyond showcased a wide range of work representing the convergence of art and technology. From design and photography to interactive media and student-run businesses, the Arts Tech Expo gave artists and communicators from every medium an opportunity to display their efforts.
Jessa Wilcoxen, chair of Millikin's Arts Technology & Administration Department and associate professor, described the event as an ideal opportunity for students to share and be proud of their work. "They get to show off the work they've been doing and get the real critiques and in-person criticisms they need," Wilcoxen said.
The event, which is now in its sixth year, also serves as a chance for students to network professionally with others in their future career fields. Student-run businesses were able to market and sell goods to a fresh audience, while various student organizations such as 1901 Productions and Blue Bots connected with students and local organizations involved in the arts. "Students also get the chance to connect to potential internships or jobs in the area," explained Wilcoxen.
Kev Davison, a senior arts administration major at Millikin, was particularly enthusiastic about networking with others who share their passion. "I get to meet other students who are involved with creating films or arts technology in general. A lot of people I'm hopefully going to work with in the future," Davison noted.
Kev Davison (left)
Davison is wrapping up his third semester with 1901 Productions, Millikin's student-run film company. At the Expo, Davison and 1901 Productions showcased a collection of short films, along with sneak-peek scenes of their upcoming short film project. "I just produced 'Dissociate,' which is our latest short film and will be part of our anthology series," Davison explained, mentioning how the organization was growing in numbers and increasing its abilities to produce films. The Arts Tech Expo plays a major part in getting more students involved in the student-run businesses and organizations on campus.
While the event welcomed more than 100 Millikin students and area high school students to view the exhibits, Wilcoxen hopes it can grow into a community event in future years. "We want to engage the broader Decatur [Ill.] community and Millikin's alumni community," she said. After hosting the event virtually in 2020 due to COVID-19, this year's event was held in a three-day hybrid format, with an in-person exhibition along with online components including alumni speakers, workshops and a high school media showcase.
Student entrepreneurs embraced the Arts Tech Expo for its opportunities to enhance their business ideas and market their products to real audiences. Millikin junior Miranda Fox, who is pursuing a major in communication and a minor in digital media marketing, participated in a group project for her interactive media campaign class to create a personalized candle company, Mix and Melt, with a philanthropic mission.
"Our company's goal is to bring the community together through candles and donating," Fox explained. "Each month we choose a different cause in Decatur and donate 10 percent of our profits toward that cause."
Miranda Fox (right)
The lessons Fox learned through that project, which was showcased at the Expo, applied directly to her own small business of making and selling candles.
"This company was huge for me because I got the opportunity to learn how to make a website and a lot of the other elements that I need to create a business," she added.
Jessa Wilcoxen was excited about the event's turnout and optimistic about the future of the Arts Tech Expo, along with the futures of students who participated. "Our aim is to prepare students for their futures and to give them a chance to speak about their work, which is the practice they need for portfolio reviews, interviews and their future creative careers."