Jim Adkins is an award-winning artist who has exhibited figure drawings and paintings nationally. After 20-plus years teaching and serving as HCC’s director of visual arts, Jim, at the end of the academic year, plans to spend more time in his studio and in the classroom, foregoing the role of administrator.
To draw requires learning how to see. To design requires learning how to organize. Good artists need to know how to integrate both, and HCC’s studio arts program is set up to teach them to do just that.
“We have an extremely fundamentals-based program, which is very important to an artist’s development,” explains Adkins. “We start students working at ground level to learn the principles, concepts, and skills that make good artists. Our former students thank us.”
Studio arts majors are interested in printing, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, photography, architecture, or interior design. Students enrolled in the beginning classes often go on to study graphic design, gaming and simulation, or web design.
The faculty consists of experienced teachers and practicing artists. “It makes you a better teacher if you make art, because you know how difficult it is and can share what you learn with your students,” Adkins says.
Every semester, art teachers choose the work of several students to highlight in HCC’s Horowitz Center galleries, and faculty work is exhibited as well. “These shows give us a chance to reinforce what we teach and let students learn from other artists and gain confidence,” says Adkins.
Adkins acknowledges that technology has become more important in studio arts. “Everyone, even painting majors, needs to have digital skills,” he says. “Even if you don’t design your work on the computer, you must be able to connect to the art world digitally.”
HCC arts graduate Pam Perna is combining her goal to be a studio artist with her digital arts skills. She works part-time maintaining a website and producing an e-newsletter for the Howard County Arts Council, and part-time on her own painting.
“The instruction I received laid a solid foundation for me both as a designer and a fine artist. Having working artists as professors provides a great model for students to follow,” she says.
HCC has a new director of the visual arts program, Fahimeh Vahdat, and she holds the community college environment and its students in high esteem.
“I was forced to flee my country after the Iranian revolution of 1979, and when I came to the United States in 1981, I found acceptance and respect at Richland Community College in Dallas,” she says.
Vahdat earned an associate degree and later a bachelor’s and master’s in fine arts. She taught at a community college in Texas and at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Her work in installation art and drawing/painting/printmaking has been shown nationally and internationally.
“As an educator and an Iranian-American artist, I have unique insight into the value of diversity in education and a heightened sensitivity to my students’ needs,” she says. “My role is to foster artistic development and personal growth, and to challenge students to become risk takers and innovators who push the boundaries of being creative individuals.”