Kinetic Imaging captures attention through internships, research and exhibitions

By Kim Catley

Students and faculty in the Department of Kinetic Imaging have caught the eye of artists and employers in Richmond and beyond, thanks to a tailored internship fair, innovative faculty research and exhibitions and a group show featuring talented graduate students in New York City.

Here’s a look at what the department has been up to in recent months.

A unified process for internships

This fall, KI hosted its sixth annual internship fair — a signature department program that introduces students to the breadth of career opportunities available to them.

The fair began after Stephanie Thulin, associate professor, noticed how little support was available for students in Richmond — a city that houses major advertising agencies and production companies. To combat this, Thulin started meeting with companies about opportunities while streamlining the internship process for students.

“You can’t just Google ‘kinetic imaging internships,’” she said. “I wanted to create a list of companies that relate to our mission, and a bridge for our students to those sites.”

This year, KI partnered with 15 organizations including Capital One, SuperJoy at the Martin Agency, the Broadberry and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The fair consisted of two one-hour Zoom sessions. Students selected three sites to meet with during formal 15-minute breakouts. The final 15 minutes were reserved for informal discussion with additional companies, or to continue conversations.

After the fair, all of the positions were listed in a filtered KI search in Handshake, VCU’s job search tool. A series of post-fair résumé workshops and a unified application deadline helped students through the application process.

While the fair emphasizes internship connections, Thulin said it’s also a chance for students to explore possibilities.

“From teaching an animation workshop, to doing 3D renderings for a real estate company, to traditional production and post-production, to app development for a foster youth nonprofit,” she said “They can see how the KI degree translates in the real world.”

At the forefront of creativity

While KI has long been known for its integration of sound, video and technology, several faculty members are pushing the boundaries of interdisciplinary creation even further.

Assistant professor Kate Sicchio, who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Dance + Choreography, recently received a grant from the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative aimed at bringing together artists and researchers to show how cybersecurity is woven into daily life. In collaboration with Yan Lu, a research assistant professor in the Virginia, Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center at Old Dominion University, Sicchio live coded a score for an improvised dance performed by a VCU alum. The score also featured visuals of dancers who were put through an AI process to create an inky, watercolor appearance that masked their identifying features.

“Yan and I dreamed up this proposal that focused on AI and how it is used to identify people and their characteristics,” Siccio said. “I said, ‘What if we do the opposite? What if we use AI to protect the people in the video?’”

The piece premiered Nov. 5 at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia.

Sicchio isn’t the only faculty member integrating performance and technology. KI welcomed SHAWNÉ MICHAELAIN HOLLOWAY this semester as an assistant professor. HOLLOWAY works in open source technology and experimental theater, often building structures to examine power and how its resulting qualities can beget more power and systems.

HOLLOWAY was named a Designer-in-Residence for The Luminary’s 2022 Process-As-Practice Residency. The 10-month hybrid residency balances individual projects, collaborative work and collective study, and is a space for development of inquiry and to examine the labor involved.

“The work we do at the Luminary thinking about process feels so rich, because the residence cohort is designed to bring light to different fields of work within the fine arts space. I come together with Meghana Karnik who is our Curator-in-Residence, Elena Levi who is our Administrator-in-Residence, and Maggie Wong who is our Educator-in-Residence, as one piece of a collective puzzle,” HOLLOWAY says. “It is perhaps the only space I work in that I am challenged to truly take my time and to listen closer with no pretense and with no set outcome.”

At home on Governors Island

On Governors Island in New York City, six KI graduate students had a rare opportunity to exhibit their work in New York City, thanks to a partnership with Harvestworks, an experimental arts organization on Governors Island. The exhibition was the culmination of the spring 2022 Grad Studio course, taught by Stephen Vitiello, chair, and visiting artist Melody Loveless.

The three-day exhibition, titled A Nice Place to Live, opened on May 6. Each of the home’s six rooms featured a student installation, with work from Kaitlyn Paston, Samson Stilwell, Chad Mundie, Bella Kubo (known as KUBO), Lindsey Arturo, and muthi reed in collaboration with Luce Capco Lincoln/QTPOC Visions. In addition, some of the students held related performances throughout the weekend.

Preparing for the show from a distance required careful planning, including Zoom sessions with Carol Parkinson, executive director of Harvestworks, who sent images and diagrams. The students then had to determine the best use of their space, both avoiding and encouraging an interplay of light and sound between rooms.

The experience of working through the logistics of a group show, along with the opportunity to network with artists and arts organizations, was exactly what Vitiello hoped the graduate students would take away from the show.

“It was unlike anything that can be learned in a classroom,” he said. “It’s an understanding of not just making artwork, but presenting that artwork to the public.”

Lead Image: Kate Sicchio. Photo by Michael Carnrike for Commonwealth Cybersecurity Initiative.