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More Than a Few Words About Us

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Mitchell Davidson Bentley, M.A.

Mitchell Bentley is the owner/operator of Atomic Fly Studios, the only full-time designer and artist at the helm, and therefore the only “employee” that “works” there. Bentley earned his B.H. followed by an M.A. in Humanities, at the Penn State Capital Campus in Middletown, where he also met his wife and partner, Cathie. Prior to his life in PA, he earned an associate’s in Electrical Electronics Technology from the technical branch of Oklahoma State University, in Okmulgee, OK.
Though he has shown from coast to coast and border to border, it has mostly been throughout the Midwest at General or Literary Sci-Fi Conventions. Several conventions have invited him to be their Artist Guest of Honor and many have bestowed awards upon his work. He generally does a variety of speculative pieces, commissioned work and illustrations for publication.
His work has changed throughout the years from oils to acrylics to digital. If you've seen him speak or watched him do demonstrations, the switch to digital may surprise you. At one point he used to say that he would never quit painting in oils or that using a computer was somehow cheating, but he’s found that exploration of media and continuing education are the only constants of his career, and he has revised many of his opinions along the way.
One thing he has come to understand, is that working digitally requires a basic understanding of more subjects than just painting. A strong background in Arts and Humanities also greatly informs his work. Moreover, he utilizes artistic notions, graphic design knowledge and compositional vision, as well as his electronics background to create his newer works. Furthermore, one must also research materials such as inks & papers and continually learn new software or updated versions of the old. He constantly draws from a working understanding of light, color, printing and photography. Additionally, computer maintenance, upkeep and upgrades are required skills as well, where simply maintaining brushes and such, served before.
Thanks for visiting. Be sure to let us know if we can help you on your next project.

About the Question of "Tools"

More than a little ink has been spilled over the types or human endeavor that warrant the title of "art." Some primitive cultures actually lacked a concept to distinguish between an object's purpose and its aesthetic value; "art for art's sake" did not compute. In fact, "art for art's sake" is a concept that did not fully evolve until the advent of modern art in the mid nineteenth century.
Following the invention of photography, a great debate ensued over whether or not photographs could be considered fine art. If the names Alfred Steiglitz, Ansel Adams, Man Ray and Robert Mapplethorpe make you think of art . . . you know the battle was won. There was a similar battle in the world of craft during the latter half of the twentieth century and artists who worked in clay, paper, wood and a variety of other traditionally "folk" medias went to the mat during that skirmish.
Even today, "outsider art," which is art created by untrained individuals and sufferers of assorted illnesses, has been raised to the level of high art by inclusion in galleries and museums. Many of these kinds of work, as well as works from lauded artists like Anselm Kiefer, are crafted with materials and tools ranging from lead, straw, and discarded "junk," to pliers, soldering guns and welding equipment.

Other highly acclaimed artists like Matthew Barney and Jeff Koons have incorporated equally unusual materials and graphic design elements into their work as well. Additionally, they have come from diverse backgrounds, one a football player originally, the other a Wall Street investment Broker, respectively, neither actual artists themselves. They have instead, put together teams of artisans they manage, in a adapted return to the studio approach from the Renaissance, which used to be an apprentice system. No longer apprentices, these trained artists produce work under the names of Barney and Koons, and computers most certainly play a role in the management and production of the arts, graphics, designs and even films from these to particular examples.
The question becomes, "Are computers and computer software artistic tools?" Many want to answer "No" without pondering the definition of artistic tool—and the importance or the source of those tools. Even those who answer "yes" tend to dismiss the work as either illustration or craft rather than fine art. Painters these days rarely make their own brushes or canvas and even more rarely their own paint. Haven't we all agreed to admit that it's the skill of the individual artist who, using those tools, creates an object with aesthetic value? We don't demand that an author use a typewriter... or for that matter a quill, rather than a computer, in order to consider the outcome a manuscript or literary work.
The computer has dramatically changed every aspect or our lives over the last thirty or so years . . . but it's really just a tool. In the hands or the right person . . . it's a powerful artistic tool.

We're perched on the crest of the newest debate and these works of ours are hereby placed in the ring for your consideration.

Cathie McCormick and Mitchell Bentley, 2004
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Cathie McCormick

Catherine McCormick, M.A.

Catherine A. McCormick is a member of the full-time faculty at Penn State Harrisburg where she teaches Communications and Humanities courses in audio production, cinema art, photography, writing for the media and public speaking. She earned a M. A. in Humanities and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Penn State, and is currently pursuing her Ph. D. in American Studies with a focus on popular culture and communications.
Her interest in popular culture began with work on her master’s thesis “Critical promotion, mass media and American art in the twentieth century: Greenberg, Pollock, Warhol and Koons, ” and evolved into an interest in cinema and sound design through her teaching in those areas.
McCormick’s research is focused on the history and practice of cinematic sound design, the people who develop, teach and practice this art, and the way this aspect of cinema both comes from— and contributes to—popular culture in the United States.
She also combines her photographs with sound to address the shifting of meaning for the audience that audio can bring to visuals. She is an award-winning photographer, and several of her photos have been published as book or magazine covers through Atomic Fly Studios.
Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, McCormick served as Director of Communications for JPL Productions in Harrisburg and as an Education Coordinator for Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. She has also worked as a journalist, a freelance Communications professional, a photographer, a non-profit administrator and an arts entrepreneur.
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