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50th Annual Student Art & Design Exhibition goes virtual for a second year

Tidewater Community College Visual Arts Center students are showcasing their work during the 50th Annual Student Art & Design Exhibition that has gone virtual for a second year.

The event features more than 150 works, including studio arts, photography, graphic design, ceramics and glassblowing, created by students for art classes since last March.

The judge for the event was Solomon Isekeije, professor of fine arts and

program coordinator, division of fine arts at Norfolk State University.

Top award winners include:

President’s Award: Brydi Lynn Heebner, Percolator Sam, mixed media
$100 cash award sponsored by TCC President Marcia Conston • $75 museum membership sponsored by the Chrysler Museum of Art

Vice-President’s Award: Tim Pike, Simple Man, photograph
$100 cash award sponsored by Michelle Woodhouse, vice-president for academic affairs & chief academic officer • $50 gift certificate sponsored by the Coffee Shoppe

Dean’s Award: Sharla Cotton, Black and Gray Tea Jar, clay
$200 cash award sponsored by Kerry Ragno, pathway dean, arts & humanities

Purchase Award: Alyson Miller, Eye on the Sparrow, photograph
$500 cash award sponsored by Deborah M. DiCroce • $75 museum membership sponsored by the Chrysler Museum of Art

For a complete list of award winners visit here.

The student exhibition includes a talk from invited speaker Benjamin Gaydos, chair and professor of design, University of Michigan–Flint. The illustrated lecture will take place via Zoom on April 22 at 12:30 p.m. The meeting password is 23501.

For more information, or to inquire about sales, please contact Shelley Brooks at

When MS cost him his Navy career, disabled veteran found his focus at TCC

One-third of our students are military-related. This week we highlight some of them in honor of Veterans Day, Nov. 11. 

Snapping pictures, Matthew McCarthy forgets.

Instead of reflecting on his lost Navy career or the Multiple sclerosis diagnosis that unexpectedly ended it, the California native focuses on the subject in front of the lens.

“When I’m out taking pictures for a project, that’s all I’m thinking about,” he says. “It’s an outlet.”

Using his GI Bill benefits to pay for tuition, McCarthy is close to completing an associate degree in studio arts with a specialization in photographic media arts at Tidewater Community College’s Visual Arts Center (VAC).

He’s not looking to make a huge career out of photography; it’s a passion that’s evolved into a  therapeutic hobby and given him a purpose. McCarthy grew up enjoying the dark room and 35 millimeter film — archaic terms to today’s millennial.

In fact, when he signed up for his first class, he figured he’d be headed to the Virginia Beach Campus. He had no idea that TCC offered its own charming art school, the VAC.

“I had always gone down that street to go to the Children’s Museum and blew right past the VAC,” McCarthy says. “Learning in a building that is dedicated strictly to the arts is absolutely amazing.”

McCarthy’s photograph “Between Hands and Heat,” taken at the glass studio on the rooftop of the Visual Arts Center, was among the works featured in the 49th Annual Student Art Annual Design Exhibition.

McCarthy was admittedly directionless when he learned he suffered from MS. He enlisted at 24 and eventually got stationed in Virginia Beach in 2010. Six years after that, he began suffering from double vision and fatigue. Initially, he dismissed it, but within a couple of days, he went to the hospital for tests and received the diagnosis after an MRI.

A downward spiral led to the first major depression he had ever experienced. The MS forced him to medically retire from the Navy. He lost his father earlier that year, and a relationship that became toxic fell apart. He spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in a hotel room by himself.

The time alone caused him to think and reevaluate. Finally, he developed this mindset: “It’s a disease. It’s not going to kill me. It’s chronic. I can manage it.”

“I compared it to diabetes,” he said. “I didn’t want it to control my life. I’m still me. I can still do the things I like most of the time.”

None of it was easy. He struggles with a lack of strength on his left side and some of his right along with cognitive and memory issues. Sometimes he slurs his speech.

“Star Trek” on Netflix became his respite until he realized he had to find a purpose to his days. Having heard from his military colleagues about TCC, he enrolled. He hadn’t been a strong student in high school, so in many ways achieving at TCC was his redemption.

“I went into college with that military mindset,” he said. “I’m in my fourth semester and I have had a 4.0 every semester.”

In addition, one of his photos for a project in his Fundamentals of Design class won an award at the VAC’s student art show. He earned the Doug Barner Fine Arts Scholarship this past fall that will help him purchase some better camera equipment.

Now the best news — McCarthy got married on Oct. 10.  He adds, “I couldn’t be happier.”

For special support services for military-related students, visit the CMVE or call 757-822-7645. You can also email

Live! Inside the classroom — Drawing I at the Visual Arts Center

In this series, we provide a closer look at hands-on learning during COVID-19.

While COVID-19 means online learning for most Tidewater Community College students, some are back in the classroom for hands-on training. In fact, more than 400 sections of classes in interior design, automotive, health professions, welding, veterinary technology, culinary arts, visual arts, electronics technology and other programs have on-campus components. 

A peek inside two drawing classes

Professors Nancy Mansfield and John Runner hold Drawing I classes at the same time at the Visual Arts Center (VAC). Step into either classroom held at opposite ends on the third floor, and suddenly the outside world seems miles away. Student artists, some with headphones, others enjoying the tranquil solitude, are in the early stages of learning to draw, using just pencil and paper.

“This is their haven,” Mansfield said. “For two hours and 20 minutes, they get to sit down and just work. No distractions.”

Student Jack Johnson

The assignment, a trio of volumetric bottles in Runner’s class and brown paper bags in Mansfield’s section, calls for drawing what you see. Wouldn’t we all love to see the fine details studio arts major Valentina Halilaj (her work is below) can find in simple lunch bags?

What if I can’t draw?

Most of us haven’t been formally taught how to draw. When we take pencil, pen or marker to paper, we’re winging it. Drawing I class teaches you technique. “Everyone can draw,” stressed instructor John Runner. “It takes practice to do it well. Don’t worry about how long it takes you to master it. Learning to enjoy it is a much better takeaway.”

Mansfield assures that drawing is a process “with lots of adjustments and looking at things differently.” She adds, “How well you can draw depends on the desire, and like many skills, practice.”

Students later learn about value, perspective and shading and benefit from the feedback from their peers through critiques.

The final project

Students evolve from pencil to charcoal. They conclude the class by completing a self-portrait. By creating their own likeness, they can work on it as much as they like outside of class. Mansfield notes, “All you need is a mirror!”

About the professors

Mansfield has taught drawing at the VAC for nearly 20 years. In addition to Drawing I, she teaches II, III and IV. The University of Florida graduate also teaches in the community, including classes at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.

Adjunct professor Runner gives special attention to each student and works to understand individual habits and style. “Empathy is an important part of teaching,” he said.

Runner earned his master’s in Visual Studies at Old Dominion University. His portfolio includes multiple works from the VAC’s Art Faculty Exhibition. He also teaches Printmaking I.

What the students say

“I like the feedback (Professor Runner) gives. It’s fun to be in a drawing class. It’s nice to be able to get out of the house.” — Allison Shaw, undecided major

Student Alexzander Powers

“Honestly, I enjoy everything. It’s teaching me a lot,” — Alyssa Odom, graphic design major

“I like that I can get feedback right away.” — Deannah Myers, studio arts major

“I’m better with computer design, but I like this. It’s peaceful in here.” — Jack Johnson, graphic arts major

“It’s nice to get back to basics,” — Nyasia Evans, graphic design major

Sign up!

Drawing I and II will both be offered in the spring semester. For information on registering for classes at the VAC, contact

From here, earn your BFA at Old Dominion seamlessly

Tidewater Community College arts students can now benefit from a new transfer agreement with Old Dominion University.

TCC students who have completed an Associate of Applied Arts in Studio Arts will receive junior class standing at Old Dominion University, where all their credits will be accepted toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

TCC’s studio arts program offers students the ability to learn in a collaborative arts environment at its Visual Arts Center with specializations in pre-art therapy, glass and photography.

TCC’s studio arts associate degree is a 64-credit program. For questions about enrollment, call 757-822-1111.

Norfolk photographer brings “Happenstance” to TCC Perry Glass Wheel

Tidewater Community College will feature “Happenstance: Southern Tour” from Jan. 18 through March 22 at the TCC Perry Glass Wheel Arts Center.

The artist’s reception will be held on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m., with an informal gallery talk beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Galleries and events are free and open to the public.

In this exhibition, Norfolk photographer Sam Hughes brings photographic accidents, or “happenstance,” to life. In his latest body of work, Hughes, an assistant professor of art at Norfolk State University, used a 1969 Polaroid Land Camera to record unique scenes he discovered while traveling rural routes throughout six southern states. The resulting works of art include technical mishaps, deliberate manipulations and quirky subject matter as part of his creative process.

While Hughes’ work is displayed in the Glass Wheel’s second-floor gallery, selected members of TCC’s Visual Arts Center faculty are showing their work in a wide variety of styles and approaches in the first-floor space. Media include painting, encaustic, sculpture, glass, pottery, drawing, photography, mixed and more.

The TCC Perry Center is located at 128 W. Olney Road in Norfolk.

Gallery hours are Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. For more information, contact Shelley Brooks at 757-822-1878, or visit

Best in Show winner from Stockley Gardens graduating with two degrees from TCC

Brandon Umberger enrolled at Tidewater Community College to get a handful of basic college credits out of the way. 

Then his art teacher recommended he check out the Visual Arts Center

“Amazing,” is how Umberger describes the Olde Towne, Portsmouth space renowned for its faculty of working professionals and dynamic, innovative curriculum. 

“I liked it so much I stayed for four years,” said Umberger, who will graduate on Dec. 16 with associate degrees in studio arts and photography

Umberger’s award-winning art from the 2019 Stockley Gardens Fall Art Show.

He’s found early success with animals and landscapes, his two favorite subjects. Umberger won the Best in Show Futures Award at the Stockley Gardens Fall Art Show. His pieces include a watercolor of a distinguished rooster, a portrait of a lion done in vibrant infused watercolor and a third watercolor of Blue City Alley in Morocco. 

“This piece is special from it being my first watercolor and soft pastel painting and my first architectural piece,” Umberger said. The Visual Arts Center student awards recognized that painting earlier this year for its use of color. 

Umberger became serious about art at age 16 after realizing how well it calmed his mind. His initial work, a soft pastel master copy of Monet’s “Poppies,” caught the eye of his art teacher. When she let him work with her soft set of pastel colors – all 800 of them – his eyes grew big. 

“It took me 30 minutes just to pick colors,” he said. 

Umberger added to his skill set at the VAC, where he’s enjoyed all the classes, particularly Printmaking and Drawing IV. After wanting better references for his artwork, he decided to hone his photography skills and realized with just five more classes, he could earn a second associate degree. 

He learns from the critiques at the VAC and the collaboration that comes from engaging with the creative minds there whose specialties range from glassblowing to graphic design. 

A peer of his is adept at drawing zentangles, structured patterned designs that combine spots, lines and simple curves. Umberger enjoys layering and plans to experiment with a watercolor over her zentangle. 

“There’s all kinds of ways to get inspired here,” he said. 

Blue City Alley won the VAC student award for use of color.

After graduation, Umberger will study under local artist Tom Barnes. His plan is to be a studio artist who supplements his income with photography. One day, he’d like to teach. 

We’re picturing a brilliant future for this TCC artist

“Can I borrow your camera?” eighth-grader Aninah McKenzie asked her mother one day.

Who could have predicted where that would lead? @aminah_mck boasts more than 14,000 followers on Twitter. McKenzie, now 22, is an Instagram darling, too, who’s been featured in Buzzfeed. Once upon a time, she took photos; now she schedules photo shoots far beyond that first simple snapshot of a backyard flower.

The Western Branch High School graduate is in full bloom at Tidewater Community College, where she is pursuing a studio arts associate degree. With the foundation she’s earning at the Visual Arts Center, she plans to eventually transfer to either VCU or Norfolk State University.

“Basically, I want to take pictures of people for the rest of my life,” said McKenzie, who adores fashion photography and recently started her own business. “I want to work in magazines and campaigns for brands and even shoot behind-the-scenes photos for music and movie videos.”

“Girls,” a project McKenzie photographed inspired by the film “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Her grades in high school weren’t the best. That meant McKenzie’s college list was limited. TCC made sense given its proximity and her ability to use her father’s GI Bill benefits to pay the full cost of tuition. It turned out to be a better choice than she could have imagined.

“I knew the VAC was here, but when I found out more about it, I realized it was great,” she said.

McKenzie credits the faculty and peers at 340 High St., with fostering a unique learning environment.  “Everybody is here to create,” she said. “Everyone is super excited about their work. The professors really help.”

Ticking off examples, she notes instructor LaKaye Mbah, who urged her to expand her thinking beyond snapping pictures for fun.

“She wants her students to picture themselves beyond the classroom,” McKenzie said. “It’s not so much about taking photos. She wants you to think about what you’re going to do with them.”

A Fundamentals of Design class sharpened McKenzie’s attention to detail and fine-tuned her photo editing skills by teaching her about color. Professor Tom Siegmund isn’t shy in his critiques, a plus, she said, for a serious artist.

As a VAC student, McKenzie can bring models into the photography studio. They’re often stunned by the state-of-the-art space and ask, “What school is this again?”

“It’s TCC!” McKenzie responds.

Her portfolio continues to expand with projects that range from “Girls,” inspired by the use of color in the film “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” to “A Story About Love,” an offbeat engagement shoot for two clients.

Her business, Aminah McKenzie Photography, is growing. One of her social media shoots went viral, prompting Teen Vogue to invite her to New York to shoot its entire staff. She specializes in portraits and faces, though a photo she submitted of Western Branch Park will be one of 12 in the City of Chesapeake’s 2020 calendar.

McKenzie will graduate from TCC next summer.

“A Story about Love,” by McKenzie

TCC’s 50th Annual Art Faculty Exhibition opening Nov. 23 at Visual Arts Center

Tidewater Community College will hold its 50th Annual Art Faculty Exhibition from Nov. 23 through March 1, 2020, at the Visual Arts Center (VAC).

The opening reception will take place on Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. A sale of student work will be held from 5-8 p.m. in an adjoining space.

Recent drawings, paintings, pottery, glass, photographs, computer-generated imagery and mixed media in a wide variety of subjects and approaches will be on display from 27 artists.

Professors Ed Francis, Ryan Muldowney, Craig Nilsen and Tom Siegmund are among the full-time faculty showcasing their works. Former full-time faculty with works in the show are Rob Hawkes, Harriette Laskin and George Tussing. Prior VAC directors Anne Iott and Ed Gibbs will also take part, as will Corinne Lilyard-Mitchell, interim director of the VAC.

TCC Chorale will perform its winter program at nearby Trinity Episcopal Church from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

All events are free and take place during the Olde Towne Holiday Open House.

The VAC is located at 340 High St., in Olde Towne Portsmouth. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; galleries will be closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

For more information, call Shelley Brooks at 757-822-1878, or visit

“I tell people all the time about TCC,” says VP of corporate communications at Retail Alliance

Kylie Ross Sibert worked on multiple continents before moving to Virginia Beach from Shanghai in 2010.

Despite more than a decade of work experience in marketing research, she wanted additional skills, particularly in graphic design, to give her resume an edge. A search led her to Tidewater Community College.

Today the vice president of corporate communications for Retail Alliance revels in the position that meshes together all of her strengths.

The native Australian got offered a job by the nonprofit trade association located in the NEON District of Norfolk while finishing up her Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design at TCC, initially hired as the director of communications.

“I would have never gotten the job if I didn’t have the education from TCC,” said Ross Sibert, promoted to her current role two years ago. “I had never done graphic design before; I used to create things in Word or Publisher. It was a huge benefit for me to have those graphic design skills to add to my resume.”

After positions in Australia, New Zealand and China, Ross Sibert immigrated to the United States to be closer to her sister in Hampton Roads. Though she previously completed some technical college classes, she wanted a stronger foundation. The hands-on classes at the Visual Arts Center taught her concepts she had never considered important before.

“I learned typography, something I had never thought of in terms of what I was doing,” she said. “The advertising class I took taught me about simplifying a message, and it included design. That was helpful because I had not done the marketing side of advertising before.”

Ross Sibert chuckles when recalling that she attended class nine months pregnant with her son, grateful when he was born Dec. 8. Given the serendipitous timing, she missed no classes.

“It was perfect,” she said.

In addition to becoming proficient in the Adobe Creative Suite, Ross Sibert enjoyed bouncing ideas off classmates. For so long, she had completed her communications to-do list in a silo, a one-woman shop.

An unexpected bonus of her TCC education: the college’s International Student Service advisers. The one-on-one help from staff answered all the questions she had as an international student.

“I tell people all the time I went to TCC,” Ross Sibert said. “For me, as an international student, it gave some legitimacy to having an education in America. I use what I learned every day.”

Make sure you stop by TCC Perry Glass Wheel Arts Center during NEON Festival

Sample bourbon flamed apples and sway to jazz music under a fall night’s sky.

Join Tidewater Community College at the 5th Annual NEON Festival in Norfolk on Friday, Oct. 18, from 6 to 10 p.m.

The two-night festival, which starts on Oct. 17, celebrates the energy and light in Norfolk’s arts district. On tap at the TCC Perry Glass Wheel Arts Center at 128 W. Olney Road will be:

  • Culinary arts students from the college serving homemade bourbon flamed apples, the scrumptious dessert made with apples and bourbon and flambéed. Delish!
  • Glassblowing demonstrations by staff from TCC’s Visual Arts Center. We promise it will make you want to take a glassblowing class!
  • Music from the Blue Moon Jazz Ensemble
  • Lots of artwork! All the art inside the TCC Glass Wheel Arts Center will be for sale. In addition to faculty artwork, check out the whimsical mixed media animals made from found and recycled objects created by Virginia Beach artist Barbara Kobylinska.

The rest of the festival includes the unveiling of five new murals, public art tours, community programming and additional entertainment. For more information, visit the festival website.

Mural at Oceanfront designed by TCC student

As much as Olivia Hudson enjoys drawing and painting, she rarely shares her work.

“Everything I do is for me to put on a shelf and really never look at again,” says the Virginia Beach 20-year-old, who will graduate from Tidewater Community College in December with an Associate of Science in General Studies.

Drive by Cypress Avenue near 17th Street, though, and you can’t miss Hudson’s artistry – an 8×12 mural with a sky blue background featuring two hands – one of color and the other white – interlocked. Underneath the letters read “Building a Better Community.”

The mural is one of three created by students selected after an open tryout offered by the ViBe Creative District, a Virginia Beach nonprofit, in July. The challenge: to design a mural positively reflecting the community theme, a response to the construction and orange cones littering the Oceanfront that are the result of a number of building projects that will enhance the area when complete.

It’s Hudson’s first mural and the challenge overwhelmed her at times.

“I’ve never painted anything nearly that big before,” she says.

When she arrived in the early morning hours to avoid the heat meant, she had to deal with the dew that dampened her work from the night before. Paint dries quickly outdoors, she realized, and blending skin tones proved challenging.

She chugged Gatorade and put an estimated 30 hours into the mural before the final product satisfied her.

Deciding how to best reflect the theme was easy. “Community for me is just about people and their relationships and helping each other,” she says. “I wanted to do something I thought would speak to people around here.”

The 2017 First Colonial High grad works full time for a company that specializes in making wood furniture and doesn’t anticipate transferring after she earns her associate degree. While completing her degree is an accomplishment she’s proud of, Hudson wants to continue working in carpentry and one day, own her own business.

She doesn’t rule out taking classes at the Visual Arts Center, but admits turning a hobby into a job might dampen the joy. The whole experience creating the mural, she says, turned out better than she expected.

“I’ve got to admit,” she says, “driving by it is pretty cool.”


Tidewater Community College’s Visual Arts Center will host the invitational exhibition “The Secret Life of Birds” from Sept. 13 through Oct. 27.

The opening reception is Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m.

Galleries and events are free and open to the public.

The nine artists who will participate in this group exhibition are:

  • Mark Chatterley of Williamston, Michigan,
  • Betsy DiJulio, Corinne Lilyard-Mitchell, and Eloise Shelton-Mayo, all from Virginia Beach
  • Dianne Hottenstein of Chesapeake
  • Judith Peck of Washington, D.C.
  • Trish Pfeifer of Norfolk
  • Tom Siegmund of Carrsville, Virginia
  • Tanja Softić of Richmond.

DiJulio, Lilyard-Mitchell, Shelton-Mayo, Hottenstein and Siegmund are faculty members at the Visual Arts Center.

Two- and three-dimensional works range in scale from Peck’s miniature paintings on silver leaf to Softić’s panoramic mixed media drawings on paper. Additional media include photography, encaustic and clay.

The exhibition reflects a bird theme.  Through their respective approaches, each of the artists continues the tradition of using bird imagery as the rich and layered icons depicted throughout art history.

The VAC is located at 340 High St., in Olde Towne, Portsmouth.

For information, call Shelley Brooks at 757-822-1878.

From TCC to Hollywood and the American dream

Once upon a time, Nigel Tierney sat in a classroom at Tidewater Community College where he learned computer basics along with graphic design.

Today, Hollywood is his home, and if you’ve seen the final “Shrek” film or have been among the 160 million viewers watching Lil Dicky’s latest music video, you’ve seen his genius.

Nigel Tierney at DreamWorks
Nigel Tierney at DreamWorks.

The former senior technical director at DreamWorks Animation today heads content at the Emmy-award winning media company RYOT. It’s a fairytale story that started at TCC.

“Community college is a necessary part of American society and helped me reach the American dream,” Tierney said from Los Angeles.

The native of Kilkenny, Ireland, came to this country in his early 20s to work in the Leprechaun store at Busch Gardens, enjoyed Hampton Roads and decided to study computer science at TCC. Tierney earned his associate degree in computer science in 2005, and from here, transferred to Old Dominion University for his bachelor’s and master’s.

“I was recently telling my son about the time I was taking a ferry across the water to the Portsmouth Campus for a graphic design class,” he said. “I was standing on the deck when a seagull stole a Pop-Tart right out of my hand. I remember being so bummed, as I was to be gone a half a day and now had no breakfast. But then I had this beautiful, reflective moment where I was blown away to be in America and taking a ferry to class.

“TCC was a core part of my journey, and not only the education, but the hustle it instilled in me. I was confused on how to make my way, and TCC really empowered me to traverse the American education system.”

Two weeks after presenting his master’s thesis, Tierney was in Hollywood working with DreamWorks as technical director. His first project, “Shrek Forever After,” is the final chapter of Shrek and Fiona’s adventures full of more computer-animated graphics that enchant on the big screen.  “DreamWorks taught me to care about the pixel, the final image and every frame,” said Tierney, who later managed creative teams for “The Croods,” “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” and “Kung Fu Panda 3.”

Tierney recently co-produced and co-directed the animated music video “Earth,” for the song by rapper Lil Dicky. The project, co-produced by his own company, Tierney Corp., won a bronze award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. It brought together 32 artists to shed light on climate change and encourage people to do their part to save the planet.

“We recorded all of these celebrities at different times and created a very beautiful video that reminds me of a children’s book,” Tierney said.  “With ‘Earth’, I got to bring an entire team together to execute a vision. And the end result is something really special and impactful.”

Tierney’s work at RYOT includes content creation for Verizon’s 5G studio as well as Verizon brands such as AOL, Yahoo, Tublr and Xbox.

“We’re creating content that is innovative, powerful and tells a meaningful story. We’re using interactive 2D video, augmented reality and virtual reality,” Tierney said. We can be adaptive, because we are not constrained to a 90-minute film or a 22-minute TV show.”

The married father of two is at work on a new project in partnership with Time Magazine that will bring Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech to virtual reality for the first time.

His TCC roots remain dear to him. He returned to Virginia for the first time for Pharrell’s “Something in the Water” festival as Verizon was a sponsor.

“Even an hour ago, I was writing project notes with the knowledge I gained in class,” Tierney said. “I still feel part of the area and even have my 757 number,” Tierney said. “Thanks to Tidewater and everyone there for all you do.”

Visual Arts Center exhibit featuring Portsmouth artists opening this week

Tidewater Community College’s Visual Arts Center will host the exhibition “FORMS: Works by Cate Currier & Clay McGlamory” from June 11 through Aug. 8.

The opening reception will be held on June 13 at 7 p.m. A gallery talk will precede the event at 6:30 p.m.

Galleries are free and open to the public.

The designs for Currier’s work are derived from color and form. Using screenprint on paper, the Portsmouth artist focuses on interactions that are achieved by using multiple layers of colors

that yield a variety of movement, optical effects, vibrations and resonances. Bright colors and detailed illusions define the eye-catching works that vary in scale.

In his work, McGlamory, also from Portsmouth, depicts images that include color interaction and the repetition of patterns and symbols. His work relies on optical effects, but unlike Currier’s, he uses monoprints in gridded compositions that result in a larger field of vision for the viewer. McGlamory often prints on alternative materials, such as layered glass, pushing the boundaries of the flatness commonly associated with printmaking.

Carrying on the rich tradition associated with neon, a collaborative work deals directly with color, shape, line and form. Geometric shapes, sizeable letters and blinking stars are an exciting addition to the display.

The Visual Arts Center is located at 340 High St. in Olde Towne Portsmouth.

For information, call Shelley Brooks at 757-822-1878.

VAC honors the best in art and design at annual awards

The Painting II assignment called for staging and photographing a person interacting with an object and applying it to a canvas. Tidewater Community College student Alison Miller knew she wanted a creation that combined the mysterious with the unique. She considered replicating her son, Kaine, playing his viola, but it didn’t translate well into a painting. On a whim, she told him to grab his PlayStation, her inspiration for Player One, Ready!, winner of the Visual Arts Center Purchase Award.

Miller’s painting was one of several recognized at the 49th Annual Student Art & Design Exhibition at the VAC.

“When the judge described my painting during the ceremony, she commented on the details and the emotion that I hoped was captured, giving me a boost in my confidence toward my work,” said the Navy wife, who will graduate in May with associate degrees in Studio Arts and Pre-Art Therapy.

Melinda Watson’s photograph Red Pepper Flakes, winner of the President’s Award, was inspired by photographer Corinna Gissemann’s use of contrasting light,

“When I am creating my pieces, I strive to make them look live, enough that they could just be picked up and eaten,” said Watson, who graduated in December with an Associate of Applied Arts in Studio Arts with a Specialization in Photographic Media Arts. “The level of detail seen in my image was done with the use of a macro lens. I like getting lost in the tiny details of my subjects by getting up close and personal to them.”

All winners listed below:

VAC Purchase Award (Dr. Deborah M. DiCroce)

Alison Miller • Player One, Ready! • oil on canvas

President’s Award (Dr. Gregory DeCinque)

Melinda Watson • Red Pepper Flakes • photograph

Provost’s Award (Dr. Michelle Woodhouse, Portsmouth Campus)

Cynthia Jones • Drifter • engraving

Ruth Jones Judge’s Choice Award: Jessica Clampet • Childhood Encapsulated • oil on canvas

John and Karen Kise Award of Excellence for Graphic

Design (in memory of Dr. and Mrs. Mearl A. Kise): Armani Phoutasen • Battle Cry • video

Award of Excellence for Painting: Hope Drew • Tea Time • oil on canvas

Director’s Award of Excellence for Glass: Kevin Chigos-White • Blue Balance • glass

Michael R. Gluse Award of Excellence for Drawing (in memory of Barbara L. Gluse): Andrew Howald • Troubled Guy • charcoal, pastel

Ed Gibbs Award of Excellence for Photography: Monika Chuchro • Untitled • photograph

 Shelley Brooks Award of Excellence for Sculpture: Suzanne Luna • Spring is in the Air • metal, PVC pipe

Darrell & Sally Craig Award of Excellence for Drawing: Cynthia Hymon • Zoe • scratchboard

The Coffee Shoppe & Chrysler Museum of Art

Award of Excellence in an Open Category: Rebecca Smith • 1200 XLC Carburetor • oil on panel

Lynne Hundley Award of Excellence for Mixed Media: Michaela Bly • Austin • mixed media

Vice President’s Award (Dr. Corey McCray): Grace Martin • Untitled • oil on panel

Provost’s Award (Dr. Michael Summers, Virginia Beach Campus): Melyssa Rolon-Hansen • Dew Drop • computer generated

Provost’s Award (Dr. James Edwards, Chesapeake Campus): Sharla Cotton • Bourdelou • clay

Provost’s Award (Dr. Emanuel Chestnut, Norfolk Campus): Andy McKay • Untitled • glass

Hartung Gallery Award for Color: Brandon Umberger • Blue City Alley • watercolor, soft pastel

Student Art & Design Exhibition opens at Visual Arts Center on March 23

Tidewater Community College’s Visual Arts Center will host the 48th Annual Student Art and Design Exhibition from March 23 through April 25. The event features more than 150 works, including studio arts, photography, graphic design, ceramics and glassblowing, created by VAC students during the past year.

The exhibition’s awards presentation will be March 30 at 11 a.m., at the Commodore Theatre, 421 High St., in Portsmouth. The opening reception will follow at noon at the VAC, which is located at 340 High St.

Events are free and open to the public.

Artist Betsy DiJulio, art and art history instructor for Virginia Beach Public Schools, is this year’s judge. During the event, DiJulio will present $3,310 in awards recognizing artistic excellence.

Programming for the exhibition includes illustrated lectures by a visiting artist and a visiting graphic designer. On April 3, Nicole Santiago, artist, and associate professor of art and art history at the College of William & Mary, will present “Rethinking and Revising.”

On April 9, Savannah Kaylor, independent graphic designer and president of AIGA Hampton Roads, will present “Fired to Freelance: Moving Forward with Design.” Both programs begin at 12:30 p.m. at the VAC in room 208.

For information, contact Shelley Brooks at 757-822-1878.

Solo program by Portsmouth artist to be featured at Visual Arts Center

 Tidewater Community College’s Visual Arts Center will host the solo exhibition “Alison Stinely: Gilded Splinters & Other Work” from Feb. 2 through March 13.

The opening reception will be held on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. A gallery talk will precede the event at 6:30 p.m.

Galleries are free and open to the public.

The Portsmouth artist presents a provocative collection of mixed media paintings created by combining 3D printing and a variety of painting techniques. The highly distinctive and compelling large-scale painting and sculptural hybrids convey drama and power as they offer responses to conformity and societal norms, particularly with regard to the feminine.

The assistant professor of painting at Old Dominion University explores personal experiences and expectations and how she is affected by society and, consequently, self. By using female figures among historic and contemporary imagery, Stinely is able to symbolically emphasize that these ideals have persisted through time, regenerating the same narratives that are as significant today as they have ever been.

The VAC is located at 340 High St., in Portsmouth.

For information, call Shelley Brooks at 757-822-1878.

TCC’s faculty arts show opens at VAC

Tidewater Community College will hold its 49th Annual Art Faculty Exhibition from Nov. 17 until Jan. 2 at the Visual Arts Center (VAC).

The opening reception will be Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. A sale of student work will take place from 5-8:00 p.m., in an adjoining space.

The TCC Chorale will perform its winter program that same evening at Trinity Episcopal Church from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

All events are free and take place during the Olde Towne Merchants’ Holiday Open House.

In this exhibition, 26 artists will display recent drawings, paintings, pottery, glass, photographs, computer-generated imagery and mixed media in a wide variety of subjects and approaches.

Participating full-time faculty includes Ed Francis, Ryan Muldowney, Craig Nilsen and Tom Siegmund. Former full-time faculty including Rob Hawkes, Harriette Laskin and George Tussing will also show art. Prior VAC directors Anne S. Iott, Ed Gibbs and Christina Rupsch will take part, as well as Corinne Lilyard-Mitchell, interim director of the VAC.

The VAC is located at 340 High St., in Olde Towne Portsmouth. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; galleries will be closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

For more information, call Shelley Brooks at 757-822-1878, or visit

A whole building dedicated to art? Photographer finds his time at the VAC illuminating

Jason Stick went from snapping photos of friends snowboarding to becoming an award-winning photographer thanks to the foundation he got at Tidewater Community College’s Visual Arts Center (VAC). Today the Kellam High School graduate is known for his ability to capture simple, everyday scenes highlighting the most minute of details.

Manipulating darkness and light in an effort to reduce visual noise is the backdrop for his series “Night Shift,” on display at the Charles Taylor Visual Arts Center in Hampton through Oct. 7.

He initially walked through the doors of the VAC to add to his marketing degree from James Madison University by learning more about graphic design. He immersed himself in a plethora of classes, but gravitated toward learning more about photography under the direction of Professor Tom Siegmund.

“Everything else I did prior to the VAC was dabbling,” Stick said. “I didn’t have the patience to learn about the camera and all the different things you could do with it.”

Stick didn’t expect dropping into the VAC’s upstairs library to be a transformational experience, either. That’s where he stumbled upon Robert Frank’s book “The Americans,” full of images from the iconic photographer taken in quintessential America in the 1950s.

“I had no idea this was such a famous book,” he said. “When I paged through it, I was totally hooked. That helped set my course for my love affair with photography.”

Night Moves
A photograph from the “Night Shift” exhibition at the Charles Taylor Visual Arts Center in Hampton

Stick’s “Night Shift” series turns the mundane into magic. He uses simple props ranging from a plastic deer to a garden shovel to a plot of flowers and illuminates them via flashlight to reveal nuances that most of us would miss. The idea emerged after he was in something of a creative rut and hauled his tripod outside one night to spark his imagination.

“Carving out subjects from darkness is appealing,” he said. “The unimportant details fade away and you notice things along the edges where the light falls off.”

The series took Best in Show at last year’s Virginia Artists Juried Exhibition, leading to the current exhibition in Hampton. Previously, his “Night Shift” images were exhibited at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art satellite gallery in Virginia Beach.

Another project titled “In Between,” focuses on all those everyday moments we often overlook in the rush to get from here to there.

Stick, who by day works in communications at the Capital Group, hopes to teach one day and plans to keep exploring photography. He’s looking forward to the VAC’s move to the NEON District in Norfolk, as it will cut down on travel time from Virginia Beach if he takes additional classes.

“What I found at TCC was a whole building dedicated to art,” he said. “And for someone like me, that’s pretty cool.”


Local artists show off their whimsy at Visual Arts Center

The exhibition “It Figures: New Work by Bob Sites, Virginia Van Horn and Bill Wagner” will open at Tidewater Community College’s Visual Arts Center on Sept. 15.

The opening reception will be Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. with an informal gallery talk preceding the event at 6:30 p.m.

Events are free and open to the public. The exhibition continues through Oct. 31.

“It Figures” features new work by Hampton Roads artists Sites, Van Horn and Wagner. Using a rich and compelling diversity of media, subject matter and style, this trio of renowned artists focuses on various patterns in their human, animal and natural forms. Intricate drawings, perfectly proportioned animals and colorful figurative paintings will be on display in the show.

Palindrome 2
Detail of “Palindrome 2” by Virginia Van Horn.

Sites will present paintings with vivid color and exquisite details using traditional glazed stucco on canvas. In his new series of male nudes, the former Norfolk State University painting professor combines his animal, clown and circus imagery with these straightforward, contemporary portraits that are neither scandalous nor coy.

In her large-scale sculptural work, Governor’s School for the Arts instructor Van Horn depicts the intersection between the human and natural worlds. Using animal imagery as alter egos, Van Horn shares her fascination with wild creatures who have adapted to the human invasion of their natural habitats and who live their lives parallel to our own. She continues to explore this phenomenon while considering who’s invading whom.

Self-proclaimed doodler Wagner works with a variety of media and subjects to create his detail-oriented, abstract compositions. The retired Old Dominion University art professor fills his pages with wonderfully strange human and animal portraits, fragmented body parts, typographic messages and other dissimilar objects that are both imaginative and surreal.

Galleries are free and open to the public.

For information, call Shelley Brooks at 757-822-1878.