1 Park Place, Athens, Ohio 45701

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Join us for a discussion on AI’s impact on the creative fields with College of Fine Arts faculty and industry experts! Dr. Basil Masri Zada will lead a conversation about AI in which panelists will attempt to remove mysticism and misconceptions surrounding AI, explore how it is trained and used in art creation, and explore the ethical and legal considerations that emerge if AI art is truly creation or just imitation of other artists work. 


Visit the symposium website for more information on OHIO's AI Symposium and additional panels to attend. 


College of Fine Arts Panel Session:


Title: Artificial Intelligence and Art, Creation or Imitation?


Panel Chair:

Basil Masri Zada, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Instruction, Digital Art + Technology, School of Art & Design


Basil Masri Zada, Ph.D., is a transdisciplinary, cross-cultural scholar-artist, activist, Fulbright alumni, educator, curator, art administrator, and digital arts, technologies, and museum professional. Masri Zada's research and artistic practice focus on the practices of everyday life, art, and political activism in relation to the Syrian crisis that started in 2011. In addition to traditional sculpture and drawing, his studio expertise includes a variety of mediums such as performance, sound, new/multimedia, video art, installation, technology, interactive, AI utilization, and digital arts.  


Panel Member (IN PERSON):

Sean Parsons, DMA

Director, Contemporary Music and Digital Instruments

Music Theory, Piano, Jazz Studies, Ohio University


Sean Parsons is a jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and educator and is the director of the Ohio University Contemporary Music and Digital Instrument program. Originally from Illinois, Sean holds a Bachelor's degree in music composition from Illinois Wesleyan University, a Master's degree in jazz studies from DePaul University, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Illinois. Prior to his appointment at Ohio University where he directs the Contemporary Music and Digital Instrument program and teaches Jazz Studies and Music Theory, Sean has held faculty positions at Marshall University and Illinois Wesleyan University. He is in demand as a performer and clinician nationwide. Sean has shared the stage with many of the most notable musicians in jazz including Clark Terry, James Moody, Aretha Franklin  Jon Faddis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Steve Turre, and Randy Brecker. 


Panel Member (IN PERSON):

Thomas Williams (OU Alumni)

Distinguished Member of Technical Staff, Nokia Bell Labs Research


Thomas Williams is a software researcher in the "Software and Data Systems" research lab, currently working on systems research for machine learning systems.

Besides working as a researcher, he also served for 5 years on the Bell Labs internal venture which culminated in the ALU-9980 Packet Accoustic Echo Cancellation product.

Prior to joining Bell Labs Research in 1999, he began his career with Western Electric in 1983 as a software developer and continued with AT&T and Lucent becoming lead developer and architect of several operations support systems deployed into the USA telephone network.


Panel Member (IN PERSON):

Evan Jaffe, Ph.D.

Machine Learning Engineer, Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC)

A member of the Ohio Technology Consortium


Evan Jaffe, Ph.D., is a Machine Learning Engineer at the Ohio Supercomputer Center, where he works in the Scientific Applications group to support clients through project design and development, training and outreach.  His research interests focus on computational linguistics and prior projects include coreference modelling, paraphrase detection, question answering and text classification. 

Before joining OSC, Evan worked in data annotation as a backend engineer on an ontology and knowledge graph application and has separate experience with a machine vision company. 

He holds a doctorate in Linguistics from the Ohio State University and a BA from Brown University. 



Ihab Mardini

Assistant Professor, School of Design, Rochester Institute of Technology

3D Designer, Filmmaker, Animator, and Photographer


Ihab Mardini graduated in 2014 after being awarded the Outstanding Student of College of Imaging Arts at RIT, and he was chosen as the delegate of all RIT grad students. His teaching career took-off in 2014 as an adjunct Professor in the School of Film and Animation (SOFA), he was hired later as a visiting professor at the 3D Digital Design program (3DDD), where he later was offered the position of an Assistant Professor, a position he currently holds. He is now also an affiliate Professor of the Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction & Creativity (MAGIC).

In addition to teaching academically, for several years Ihab has taught 3D modeling and animation to kids at the RIT Tiger-Camps. He has also been volunteering to teach animation to kids at the Joseph Avenue Arts and Culture Alliance.

Throughout his career at RIT Ihab worked on several personal and commissioned films, which reaped him numerous film recognitions including a permanent display of Iroquois Creation Story at Ganondagan’s Seneca Art & Culture Center and two Best Animation awards, in addition to a permanent display of Soap Film at the Exploratorium Museum of Science. As a Professor, Ihab was nominated for Teaching with Technology in 2022, the Eisenhart Nomination – RIT Outstanding Teaching Award in 2018, and a Nomination for Outstanding Teaching Award for Non-Tenure-Track Faculty in 2015.



Waref Abu Quba (Germany)

Filmmaker & Motion Graphic Designer


Waref Abu Quba is an award-winning Syrian-German film director and animator. He has always been fascinated by the magic of moving images, as a melting pot of many art forms.

In his creative work, Waref constantly pushes the boundaries and experiments with new ideas and mediums, combining camera work, animation and innovative post-production techniques.

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in art from Damascus University, he began his career as a graphic designer and then gravitated toward animation and film. With over 15 years of industry experience, he has gained extensive knowledge in various aspects of filmmaking.

Waref has several short films in animation, fiction and other genres that have premiered and won awards at international film festivals. Recently, he has expanded his repertoire to include AI-generated animation and launched a series of "AI Video Studies" to explore new creative possibilities on his social media accounts.

Event Details

  • Chad Collofello
  • Amy Khazaal
  • Winsome Chunnu
  • Lorraine Wochna

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