Millikin University's annual Celebrations of Scholarship is a day where performance learning comes to the forefront for everyone to see. Students from all disciplines shared their work and highlighted the depth of learning that occurs on campus.
As part of this event, several Millikin fine arts students were able to demonstrate the process of creating art and music. Millikin art students and faculty members from Carriage House Press revealed the making of print art with the use of a steamroller. Members of the Millikin vocal jazz ensemble, OneVoice, performed a recording session in Millitrax Recording Studio, providing observers a live experience of making a record.
"It's a lot of fun and a lot of hard work, and included many hours of carving," said Dylan Schietinger '14, a recent studio art graduate from Mount Auburn, Ill. "It's always interesting to see people's reactions to printmaking with a steamroller because it's rare."
Carriage House Press artists used hand and power tools to carve giant wooden blocks which were inked and covered with paper or fabric outside Kirkland Fine Arts Center. After being flattened by the steamroller, the material was drawn back to reveal the artist's print. The theme for the exhibition was "Mythology."
Schietinger added, "What's great about Celebrations of Scholarship as well as other venues, such as Blue Connection, is the feedback we get from students and professors. It's great that so many people can get involved."
Lyle Salmi, Millikin associate professor of art, and the students decided to exhibit the printmaking process due to the success of recent steamroller events: "That's How We Roll," held in September 2012, and "Paws for a Cause," held in May 2013. Prints from "Paws for a Cause" were made available during a silent auction to help raise proceeds for the Decatur & Macon County Animal Shelter Foundation (DMCASF).
"We decided that Celebrations of Scholarship would be a great time to showcase this event because it is a performance piece," said Salmi. "It's way for us to take printmaking and aspects of printmaking out into the community. We feel that aspects of what we do at Carriage House Press embody the idea of performance learning."
Carriage House Press is Decatur's only fine art printing press, specializing in archival limited edition etchings and relief prints. Located in the historic Carriage House at the James Millikin Homestead, the press has provided Millikin University student and faculty artists a venue to design, print, and study since 2009.
"It's a great event because it shows what the Millikin Art Department is capable of and it shows the success of the students," said Maya Holst '14, a recent art therapy graduate from Homewood, Ill. "Making print art with a steamroller is a creative process and it's becoming an annual event at Millikin."Millitrax
OneVoice, Millikin's flagship ensemble of the vocal jazz program, provided guests an example of how the producer, engineer and artists work together in the studio to make a record. The group held a recording session in Millitrax Recording Studio to demonstrate creative aspects of the music recording process.
"Millitrax is central to our curriculum in commercial music and music business," said Dr. Stephen Widenhofer, director of the Millikin School of Music. "We have had a studio on campus since the late 1970s and it has helped us find a niche market for students wanting to work in that area of the music industry."
With the music and rhythm tracks already recorded, the recording session primarily focused on the vocals, and the use of effects such as overdubbing and vocal layering.
When asked about the important factors of recording, Dr. Widenhofer says, "Patience, collaboration, and being on top of your part musically are important things. It's also important to have the ability to be flexible to the whims of the producer."
Millitrax Recording Studio consists of two studios, analog and digital. Studio A includes a large tracking room, isolation room, control room, and machine room. Studio B features the mixing room with a digital console.
Millitrax has also been an important part of Millikin's student-run recording companies, Blue Box Records and First Step Records. Now in its 15th year, First Step Records is a student-operated record label and publishing company providing hands-on experience in the business of music. Blue Box Records, an extension of First Step Records, is an expanded hub for commercial music ventures.
"Not many schools have facilities like ours," said Dr. Widenhofer. "Performance learning is what we do in the School of Music, both theory and practice. Millikin musicians perform in the practice room, studio, on the stage, and in the classroom."