Photo credit: westliberty.edu/MADfest
By Daniel Morgan, Editor
The ever-popular West Virginia Media Arts and Design Festival (MADfest) is approaching its 17th year at West Liberty University with much anticipation for April 7, 2017. The maximum 325 high school student spots filled up in less than a week of pre-registration, and according to festival director Jim Haizlett, over 100 high schoolers are on a waiting list.
Center for Arts and Education Director Lou Karas is responsible for high school registration, which was capped at 30 students per high school due to MADfest’s popularity. She has 13 high schools from Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania penciled in so far; Karas said the registration took off quickly once it opened on Eventbrite.
Haizlett is pleased with the event’s growing popularity. He created MADfest in 2000 as an outlet of one of his courses so that students could have their work seen and judged by professionals. “I was teaching animation and saw these interesting projects that I thought the students did a good job with, and I thought it would be interesting for other people to see,” he said.
“There’s a lot of real interest in high schools to get their students involved and learning about these professional activities in the media arts,” Haizlett said. “We have a lot of interest and we try to put on a great day for them. Part of it is exposing them to the campus, and we have seen students from all different majors where MADfest has been their first exposure to West Liberty University and meeting professors and seeing what West Liberty has to offer. We see it as a great recruitment opportunity but also a way to inspire students to let them see that you can make a living and a career doing media arts.”
“A really special thing that happens is when the judge that picked a certain piece speaks directly to the student in front of a whole auditorium full of people. It’s just a very exciting moment for those students to get that kind of recognition.”
This year’s MADfest winners will be decided by four jurors: motion graphics and visual effects artist Danny Johnson from Pittsburgh; musician and video artist Mark Snyder from Fredericksburg, Va.; comics journalist and illustrator Em Demarco from Pittsburgh; illustrator, photographer, and publisher Jesse Lenz, a West Liberty graduate.
When commenting on the possibility of increasing the size of the event in the future, Haizlett said, “We’re going to definitely brainstorm that because I think by the end we’re going to have to turn away two to three hundred students, which is unfortunate. It’s good in one way because it shows that it’s popular, but in the other way it’s unfortunate because there are hundreds of students who won’t be able to attend because they didn’t sign up in time.”
MADfest will kick off at 8 a.m. with the final sessions wrapping up at 3 p.m. According to Karas, some of the hands on activities will include a collage/silkscreen activity with the Warhol Museum, a “What Does Your Voice Look Like” activity with SLB Productions, and a stop motion animation activity with the Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley.
All West Liberty students are encouraged to enter the competition; submission details can be found on its website. Entries close on March 11.