Arts Initiative hosts new exhibition based on digital, AI-generated art

Published 5:13 am Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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By Ayanna Eckblad

To say artificial intelligence has gained popularity in the past year and a half would be an immense understatement. Among the excitement surrounding the new software, there is growing concern about the role it will play in people’s lives, especially those with jobs in the arts.

In Albert Lea, a new art show recently opened with a goal to drive away some of those fears. The exhibit is called “Digital Mind.” It opened at the Freeborn County Arts Initiative on May 17.

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Its creator, Elisha Marin, is an artist, teacher and musician in the Albert Lea area. He is also described as an art advocate, serving as both the vice president of the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council and the executive director of the Arts Initiative of Freeborn County.

His work mainly focuses on connecting artists with grants and funding as well as making various art opportunities known to the community. “Digital Mind” is his first visual arts exhibition.

Marin describes the exhibit as a mix of digital arts, photography, typesetting, digital painting graphic design and images produced through AI programs like ChatGPT and DALL·E.

“This is meant to show technology in a positive light,” Marin said. “AI is a little controversial in the arts world right now.”

He said the concerns people have about AI are valid, but he hopes “Digital Mind” shows people that AI is just another tool artists now have access to.

Although AI art has a focus in the exhibit, many of the pieces were conceptualized and made before AI became available to consumers.

“Some of it starts physically,” Marin said. These pieces began with photographs, drawings or scans of paper and grew from there.

Most of the pieces in Marin’s exhibit are meant to be humorous. The hope is that the tongue-in-cheek nature of the art puts people at ease about new technology, Marin said. He added the show is made to dispel some of the myths surrounding AI and show the potential the technology has for positive change.

“New technology is just a part of our modern life,” he said. “AI is going to have just massive implications for how artists create their work, who is able to create artistic works.”

The exhibit’s co-curator, Susanne Crane, said the pieces in “Digital Mind” are much more than just pictures spit out by AI.

“He will use [the AI image] and modify it,” she said. “He doesn’t ever go with whatever it sends out when you give them a prompt. He just gets elements from it and works with it.”

“This is the first show of its kind in this area,” Marin said of the exhibition. It is meant to appeal to a wide range of audiences.

“If you haven’t been to an art gallery before, please come, please see the show,” he said.

Visitors are invited to see “Digital Mind” during the Arts Initiative’s regular business hours, 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. There will be a closing reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on June 29, at which point the exhibit will come to a close.

The exhibition is supported by the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council and the Minnesota State Arts Board. It is funded through a Legacy grant.