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A New Way Forward: The newly re-organized Department of Visual Arts and Media Design

By Tanner Adomaitis, Staff Writer

Originally Published October 9, 2023

Digital arts has become a growing field in recent years, with new tools and techniques around every corner. Headed by David Safin, Associate Professor of Communication, the Department of Fine Arts is now the Department of Visual Arts and Media Design, aiming to give students the foundations that will allow them to thrive in the ever-changing field.

(SOURCE: DAVID SAFIN) Senior Digital Art and Media major Donovan Baxter aims his camera for a shot.

“The goal of our program is to provide our students with a foundation of knowledge that will sustain them throughout the entirety of their careers. The tools of expression change rapidly, but the fundamentals remain constant,” Safin said.

A Saint Vincent College (SVC) Alumni, Safin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication before obtaining a Master of Science in Multimedia Technology from California University of Pennsylvania (currently, PennWest University), and a Master of Fine Arts in Film and Digital Technology from Chatham University. Safin began teaching part-time in 2003 and is now in his ninth year as a full-time professor. Prior to beginning his career in education, he worked in audio-visual technology and as a videographer.

“When I entered the field, it was not digital art, because much of the professional world was still using analog media. However, I found an interest in video production in high school, and that flame was fanned while taking more advanced courses during my undergraduate experience at Saint Vincent,” Safin said. “I have always loved expressing myself through creative storytelling, and I have found that video was my preferred medium.”

Safin was one of the five minds behind the name change for the department. The others include Mr. Ben Schachter, a Professor of Digital Art and Media, Br. Mark Floreanini, O.S.B., Dr. Elaine Bennett, Dean of the School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Science, and Andrew Julo, the Curator of the Verostko Center for the Arts.

The Department of Visual Arts and Media Design contains three majors: the Digital Art and Media major, the Studio Art major, and the Art Education major. Both the Studio Art and Art Education programs are directed by Floreanini, while Safin directs the Digital Art and Media program.

“The Digital Art and Media major is an outgrowth of the old Graphic Design program. We changed the name when we expanded beyond design to include video production, animation, and 3D modeling. We like to highlight the versatility of our offerings, and how they prepare students to be prepared for a variety of fields,” Safin said.

The name change provides a better title for the frontier that the programs within the department aim to tackle. The diverse skill set that students of the program develop and expand on are carefully curated to evolve with the changing environment of the digital art field and give the students the necessary tools to lead successful careers.

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