VisionGreenwood’s Lakelands Emerging Technology Council to Host the World’s First Artificial Intelligence High School Art Competition

VisionGreenwood, an established community partner dedicated to making Greenwood the best place in which to live, work and raise a family, has partnered with The Arts Center of Greenwood to present the world’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI) High School Art Competition. The Lakelands Emerging Technology Council (LETC), a technology savvy group of local leaders brought together by VisionGreenwood earlier this year, has been instrumental in bringing this one-of-a-kind opportunity to Greenwood County’s youth.

The competition’s entries are original works of art created by students who utilized the Midjourney artificial intelligence art-generation technology platform. Themed “Imagine Greenwood,” the competition was open to all high school students across Greenwood County’s three school districts as well as private schools.


“There is no question that technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics are now impacting every facet of our lives. What makes AI art so fascinating is that it is created by one’s own imagination and by using very descriptive text prompts to direct the AI to create the artwork,” said Kay Self, Executive Director of VisionGreenwood. “I am looking forward to seeing how our local students utilized AI art-generation technology, fueled by their imaginations, to envision the future of Greenwood.”

John R. McElligott, CEO of York Exponential, a robotics and artificial intelligence company, and a member of the Lakelands Emerging Technology Council, has firsthand experience with this specific type of AI technology. In fact, he recently used it to illustrate a children’s book that garnered national attention.

In a recent interview with the Index-Journal, McElligott noted that new ways to use artificial intelligence and robotics will emerge as the technology advances – especially as these fields move toward computer science capabilities that allow people to communicate with AI in the same way they would talk to someone versus complex computer coding.
“You don’t have to be a coder or Ph.D. to leverage this technology,” McElligott told the Index-Journal. “The fact that Greenwood students will be among the first in the nation to do this is a really big deal. You can communicate with this AI on a laptop, or even a smartphone.”

Jennifer Smith, Gallery & Marketing Director for The Arts Center of Greenwood noted, “We are thrilled to partner with VisionGreenwood on this cutting-edge project encouraging students to embrace the potential of new technologies, explore diverse opportunities for creativity and play an active role in expanding the sphere of visual language.”

The AI-generated artwork created by Greenwood-area high schoolers will be on display at The Arts Center of Greenwood during an open-to-the-public exhibition and reception from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, November 3. Following a brief educational presentation by John McElligott at 6:45 p.m., first-, second- and third-place winners, along with a People’s Choice award, will be revealed. Cash prizes totaling $550 will be presented to the winners. The AI-generated printed artwork will remain on display for public viewing and school tours between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Friday, November 4.

Beginning Sunday night, October 30, and each evening leading up to Thursday night’s reception, images of the entries will be digitally projected in Uptown Greenwood, giving the community a sneak preview of these uniquely created pieces of art.

“This AI Art Competition has given our students a way to learn about new technologies while engaging in a once-in-a lifetime experience. I am extremely proud of how quickly Greenwood’s students adopted this emerging technology. It’s so exciting to watch these young people make history by literally paving the way for other students across the country,” said VisionGreenwood’s Self. “Based on the interest and enthusiasm this inaugural competition has sparked locally, there’s definitely potential for this to become a broader initiative – possibly a statewide or regional competition.”

With a focus on emerging technology and innovation, VisionGreenwood established the Lakelands Emerging Technology Council (LETC) to bring opportunities to the Lakelands region. Recognizing the relevance and pace of evolving technology, the Lakelands Emerging Technology Council (LETC) helps connect, advance, and advocate for technology advancements in the Lakelands region.

Members of the LETC include:
• Brandon Smith, Mayor of Greenwood and Chairman, VisionGreenwood
• Kay Self, Executive Director, VisionGreenwood
• Charles Angel, President, Due West Robotics & Software Developer for Greenwood Genetic Center
• Les Brown, M.Ed., Director of Information Technology, Self Regional Healthcare
• Dennis Fassuliotis, South Carolina Blockchain, Inc.
• Abdallah Haddad, Chief Information & Technology Officer, Lander University
• John R. McElligott, CEO, York Exponential
• Matt Wiggins, Dean – Workforce Innovation Division, Piedmont Technical College

VisionGreenwood is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with deep roots in the Greenwood community. Throughout the past 20 years, VisionGreenwood (formerly known as the Foundation for a Greater Greenwood County, Inc.) has invested over $2.9 million into the community by supporting collaborative community development initiatives that provide economic prosperity and enhance the growth and success of Greenwood. The Foundation was originally created to support the former Greenwood Partnership Alliance's charitable operations with a focus on community and workforce development. The Foundation became a stand-alone organization in 2020 and was rebranded as VisionGreenwood in 2021. By intent and design, VisionGreenwood continues to be a community partner that is focused on Greenwood's future, its economic growth and development, and its quality of life. Learn more at www.visiongreenwood.org.


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