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Innovation Center students create immersive light show

In partnership with Joy Engine, a Milwaukee nonprofit dedicated to public art, students at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design’s (MIAD) Lubar Innovation Center created an immersive extension to the summer: a spectacular outdoor light show and festival called Nitelight.

Milwaukee’s Historic Mitchell Street will transform into a dazzling arts and lights festival on September 8th and 9th from 5 – 10:30 p.m. The Mitchell Street Arts building at 710 W. Historic Mitchell Street will serve as the backdrop to the light show, a display of 4D mapping technology created by MIAD students in the Lubar Innovation Center. Zara Dixon ’25 (Illustration), James Hill ’25 (Communication Design), Darryl Wedgeworth ’25 (Communication Design) and Paolo Vacala ’24 (Communication Design) worked with Innovation Center staff and Joy Engine to develop the motion graphics programming for Nitelight.

“I had a great time working through the Innovation Center,” says Innovation Center student James Hill. “This project was a great opportunity to bolster my work ethic and to learn new creative techniques. My crew at the Innovation Center gave me fresh ideas and critiques that were invaluable to my progress.” The Lubar Innovation Center works with real-world clients like Joy Engine to connect MIAD students with paid creative development projects.

Darryl Wedgeworth, another of the students who contributed to the project, drew inspiration from recent cinematic releases. “My process started with when Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse released; the glitch art style used throughout was very inspirational for what I wanted to create,” he explains. Using free abstract videos, Wedgeworth animated and transformed the clips to produce his signature glitch art style. “I really enjoyed the process of this project and can’t wait to see the final product on the night of the festival!”

The students used laser technology to scan the building facade, then built creative designs to project onto the structure during the event. Five other Milwaukee-area artists contributed to the motion graphics artwork. “I wanted to figure out how to bring the scenes in my mind to life through various computer graphics techniques,” explains Hill. “From the get-go we wanted cool visuals that would spark joy, so that became my new focus.”

Sparking joy is certainly one of the main aims of the project. “At Joy Engine, we’re invested in promoting the access, creation, and enjoyment of public art — in all of its forms,” said Doug McDonald, president at Joy Engine in their press release for the event. “Artists play a critical role in building community vibrancy. By supporting art, we shape an environment where everybody can explore creativity, inspiring new perspectives and human connection.”

“Looking back, I learned what kind of effort it takes to work as a team, and I’m so grateful that my team consisted of who it did,” continues Hill. “A big thank you from me to each member of our team and to Joy Engine for having me. I really look forward to working with them all again.”

Visit Nitelight to enjoy live music, art, dance and food, and learn more about MIAD’s Lubar Innovation Center!


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