Dark room film processing was once the trend in visual arts. The 21st century introduced high-quality digital photography using software-based cameras to capture life in tiny pixels and eliminated the need for a dark room to develop photos. With the renovation of Johnson Institute in 2002, and the introduction of the Mississippi School of the Arts, a photo dark room was installed for film photography. The photo enlargers, pans and clothes pins have been used countless times by Visual Art students at MSA throughout the years.

With the change in times, so comes the change in the way digital media has shaped our society. Digital photo editing, illustration and animation work are lucrative careers in the visual arts and educators at Mississippi School of the Arts see this as an opportunity for students to captivate their creative skills.

During the summer of 2022, the technology and facilities maintenance departments teamed up and transformed the photography dark room lab into an Apple computer lab. Outdated equipment was removed, and walls were painted white to allow maximum light entry throughout the day. “To see the transformation of this room has been nothing short of amazing,” said Patrick Brown, the school’s Technology Coordinator.

Students can utilize professional software suites such as Adobe Cloud for creating work in Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator and more. “We’ve always allowed students access to a lab, but visual students had to share a space with Media Arts or go to the library until we could find room to create a new lab strictly for Visual Arts,” Brown said. “It’s truly a fine space in such a historic building and we hope to add more tech in the near future,” he added.

“This is really nice,” said Maurice Calvert, the digital arts instructor for the visual department. “I’m going to be using this lab a lot, not only for digital arts and photography classes, but for my other classes as well,” he added.

With the addition of this new visual art digital lab, it’s possible for students to take advantage of online courses and tutorials for game coding and design, web site design, and more. The new lab supplements the existing mobile MacBook Air lab the department already has in place.