Dominique Katan, digital arts program coordinator, posing in front of the optical illusion wall. (Daija Peeler/QCity Metro)

In an effort to provide affordable studio space for the community, The Harvey B. Gantt Center will unveil Mecca of Digital Arts (MODA), its new digital arts studio. Visitors will have access to state-of-the-art equipment to produce professional-grade content. 

The studio will feature an optical illusion wall for photoshoots, production lights, iMac computers with creative software and a lounge area. 

As a part of its debut, the Phygital Funk: Digital Creators exhibition will feature interactive art pieces created from eight local artists. 

MODA replaces a classroom the Gantt previously used to host family-friendly programs and artist-led events. 

Public access begins at 6 p.m. today, and a weekend of events to celebrate the grand opening will follow.

The studio is free for community use with plans to expand programming in the future. The Gantt’s goal is to maintain accessibility and low costs.

What’s inside?

“You can do anything from creating a lighting show, for a theater performance, to movie production to product photography,” Angel Butler, told QCity Metro while demonstrating how the optical illusion wall works. 

Butler is the Gantt’s digital content strategist and a leading coordinator for the studio’s debut.

Additionally, each desktop in the studio features creative software, including Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom.

The space can hold up to 62 people. The tables are mobile, making for easy moving if someone needs more space. 

So how can one utilize the space? 

The Gantt will host open studio hours for anyone to come and co-work. People can connect with digital arts program coordinator Dominique Katan to inquire about studio and equipment availability. Staff will also be available for support when using MODA.

The Gantt will provide a direct link with registration information as well as the studio’s event schedule. 

The community can also utilize the lounge area to work or relax. 

Lounge area inside of the studio. (Daija Peeler/QCity Metro)

Testing it out

The Gantt recently invited a group high school students to understand how the space functions with a younger audience. 

The Two-Six Project, a Fayetteville-based nonprofit, brought in 40 students to participate in a mock fashion campaign. 

Each student got a chance to photograph a model with a DSLR camera and learned “the art of image making” on how to pose subjects and shoot in unconventional ways.

Butler said teenagers are typically familiar with modern technology, but the Gantt wanted to provide an opportunity to refine their skills. 

She also said this experience could introduce students to a potential career choice or a new hobby. 

“It was really a cool experience. It was one of those things where it was like, us seeing students not pulling out their cell phones, not being distracted [but] listening,” Butler said. 

Grand opening events

To celebrate the MODA’s grand opening, the Gantt will host a weekend of festivities beginning March 24 with Art After Dark: The Phygital Funk

The event will allow people to test the studio out and take photographs. The name of the studio will also be revealed during the event.

“The idea behind the Phygital Funk was just really to explore how artists are using technology to really evolve their art-making process,” Butler said.

“A lot of artists just start and then they don’t know what else to do,” Katan said. “Being a freelance artist, you don’t get to be in professional settings as often.” 

Attendees must be 21 or older to attend Art After Dark. 

On March 25, the Gantt will host its Community Opening Day, a family-friendly unveiling in which the studio officially opens to everyone.

Community Opening Day will feature various smaller events throughout the day, including a stop animation demonstration, a guided tour of the space and a digital wellness check-in. 

Additionally, the digital creators’ exhibition will debut to the public. People will be able to use Artvive, an augmented reality tool that brings artwork to life.

Plans for the future 

Future plans include programming and workshops, some of which will cost.

The Gantt also plans to place QR codes throughout the building to increase accessibility to registration forms, Katan said, and is considering placing the codes throughout the city as well.

“People who have access to the finest technology still want to come and use it. But this should be a space where if you don’t have access to any of that you should still be able to come,” Butler said. “And we’re really looking at how to be a resource to the community.”

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Daija Peeler covers arts, culture, and faith in Charlotte.

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