VGCC adding new Associate in Fine Arts degree

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
VGCC student Sarah Benton of Oxford, center, works on a painting in a class taught by Isaac Talley, right.

Vance-Granville Community College is preparing to offer an Associate in Fine Arts (AFA) degree in Visual Arts, with classes starting in August. Prospective students can begin the process of enrollment now.

The degree will be a third college transfer option available at the college, joining the Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees already being offered. Earning this two-year AFA degree can serve as a springboard to completing a four-year bachelor’s in fine arts (BFA) degree in visual art at a university. Students will be encouraged to contact four-year universities in which they are interested, to find out about any specific transfer requirements.

In addition to their general education classes, AFA students will take classes in art history, two-dimensional and three-dimensional design, and drawing.

VGCC has offered visual arts classes of different kinds throughout its history. In 2015, VGCC began holding “Fine Arts Day” events, which incorporated not only visual art but also music, dance and dramatic arts.

Isaac Talley, an award-winning visual artist, is a full-time art instructor at VGCC, teaching courses such as Art Appreciation, Two-Dimensional Design, and Drawing. “The AFA will be an excellent way to complete your first two years of college with tuition that’s very affordable, and then proceed on to East Carolina University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Greensboro or elsewhere,” Talley said. “It’s a great opportunity, especially for people who are interested in painting, as well as digital photography, which we are planning to add in 2018.”

He added that while at VGCC, students will be able to hone their skills and build a portfolio that can help them gain admission to the university of their choice. They also may simply want more training in art without necessarily continuing to the four-year level. Jessie Hartley of Oxford, a current VGCC College Transfer student who won first place at the college’s juried student art exhibition, said that “the AFA program is appealing to me because it opens up more learning opportunities for me involving art. With the Associate in Arts program, I have learned everything from some early art history to painting and drawing. With the AFA program, my knowledge of art can expand even further with the use of different media and techniques that I possibly haven't even heard of. It will also help my credibility for future job possibilities involving art.”

Hartley said that she has enjoyed all of the art classes she has taken at VGCC thus far. “In painting and drawing, I enjoyed the freedom and self-control it gave me,” she recalled. “I learned that I could express myself in all manners of ways on a canvas that could speak to the viewer of that piece, perhaps even touch their soul.  In art history and art appreciation, I enjoyed going through the past, learning facts and valuable information and where it all began. All in all, I am really looking forward to the AFA program, and I feel that all art students, including myself, will benefit wonderfully from it.”

After she graduates from VGCC, Hartley’s plan is to develop her own studio as a freelance artist. “I would like to travel to different art festivals and sell my work, as well as learn different crafts and techniques with a diverse range of media,” she said. “I may pursue further education later on, which the AFA degree will help with to enhance my credibility and experience.”

For more information about the AFA program, contact Betsy Henderson at or (252) 738-3371.


Above: VGCC student Sarah Benton of Oxford, center, works on a painting in a class taught by Isaac Talley, right. (VGCC photo)


VGCC student Jessie Hartley of Oxford works on a mural during VGCC’s first “Fine Arts Day” event.

Above: VGCC student Jessie Hartley of Oxford works on a mural during VGCC’s first “Fine Arts Day” event. (VGCC photo)