Following a competitive international search, Douglas Easterly has been named chair of the Department of Digital Arts in the School of Art. An educator, artist, and designer, Easterly arrives at Pratt Institute from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, where he served as the program leader for animation and visual effects in the School of Design Innovation. He will assume the chair role at the start of July 2023. Peter Patchen, who served as chair of digital arts for 17 years, will be continuing at Pratt as a faculty member.
“We are happy to welcome Doug to Pratt as the new chair of digital arts,” School of Art Dean Jorge Oliver said. “He is an international educator whose deep well of leadership experience, teaching and research expertise, and commitment to fostering collaboration and community will help further the exciting trajectory of this dynamic and growing department.”
As chair, Easterly will oversee a department that is composed of approximately 65 faculty and 400 students. The department includes graduate and undergraduate digital art programs with emphases in 2D animation, 3D animation and motion arts, art and technology, interactive arts, and an undergraduate program in game arts.
“I look forward to developing the department’s vision and continuing its positive trajectory while responding proactively to the flux and unknown future that we are all entering together,” Easterly said. “No matter what eventuates on the horizon, the digital arts will play a central role in navigating this future, through uniting people, preparing students for their lives and careers, inspiring communities, and enabling society towards a more empathetic, informed, and egalitarian future.”
Easterly has served in leadership positions at Victoria University of Wellington since 2009. As the head of the School of Design Innovation, he cultivated a team of artists and designers to lead a world-class teaching and learning environment for their students. He was a pivotal part of establishing the Miramar Creative Centre (MCC), a facility that is home to the Master of Design Technology degree program, which he helped launch in 2017 along with a new Master of Fine Arts and Master of User Experience Design. The MCC is located in Wellington’s internationally renowned film precinct, home to a number of major production companies, including Wētā FX and Wētā Workshop, facilitating internships, mentoring, and teaching.
His previous academic experience also includes serving as an associate professor of computer art at Syracuse University and an assistant professor of digital art at Southeastern Louisiana University. He holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin and a BA from the University of Dallas.
Easterly’s practice as an artist and designer has spanned sculpture, painting, music, installation, robotic art, animation, and graphic design, all with a focus on engaging diverse practitioners and audiences. This has involved collaboration with scientists, musicians, filmmakers, architects, engineers, health experts, psychologists, and community leaders across the globe. His work with Matt Kenyon, “Notepad” (2007), was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 2012. He has also produced community-based events and exhibitions since the mid-1990s, including recently at the Te Papa museum in New Zealand.