“All of the faculty are working artists. We all participate in exhibitions. That is something we look for when hiring faculty. Students find that important,” said Chris Feiro, assistant professor of Art.
Foundation courses in drawing, design and art history prepare students for courses in advanced drawing, painting, ceramics or graphic design. Faculty are focused on the achievements of their students, working closely with them to ensure that they are on track to graduate and seek further education. With approximately 100 students in the program, faculty spend an extensive amount of time making sure students are getting the creative and professional input necessary for academic excellence at the College and beyond.
In addition to providing guidance for artistic development, faculty also emphasize the importance of meeting academic challenges, portfolio development, transferring to a four-year program, discipline and working well with others. Students benefit from lectures from College faculty, external artists or alumni; trips to museums; and invitations to faculty exhibitions. Faculty want students’ experiences in the program to mirror what they will find at their next school and in their career.
“Faculty work alongside students. In a studio class, students are doing what they will be doing as artists. Students can see faculty work through the concepts that they are describing to them,” said Feiro. A standard studio class is six hours a week, which is taken either as one class a week or a three-hour class twice a week.
Opportunities that expose students to areas that reach beyond the standard curriculum include the opportunity to take intensive two-week courses. This past summer, classes were offered in bookbinding, ceramic tile making and portrait painting. The classes are open to the general public and are well attended by Art majors. “The classes are very rewarding for faculty and students,” said Brian Seymour, assistant professor of Art and chair of the department.
Faculty reviews at the end of each semester help students enhance their work and give them the opportunity to explain the processes they used in the creation of their art. The best examples of student work are essential for transfer.
“Students need to create a compelling portfolio and present their ideas and the rationale
behind their work in a clear and articulate way,” said Seymour.
Before branching out into careers in graphic or industrial design, painting, sculpting, or ceramics, most graduates of the program move on to a four-year college or university. The new transfer agreement with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts will make it seamless for students to continue their studies at the first and oldest art school in the nation.
“Faculty work alongside students. In a studio class, students are doing what they will be doing as artists. Students can see faculty work through the concepts that they are describing to them.”
assistant professor of Art
“The Academy has always been a good fit for our students,” said Feiro.
Seymour credits the efforts of his colleagues in fully preparing students for further study.
“The faculty do so well at focusing students on immediate challenges but also getting to that next school,” he said.
Most students receive some level of scholarships to continue their education, and a few receive full scholarships. Graduates have gone on to other well-respected institutions, such as Rhode Island School of Design, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of the Arts. Luckily, this year’s graduates were not adversely affected by tight budgets or fundraising shortfalls. “This year was one of the best years for scholarships,” said Seymour.
Community College of Philadelphia holds arts-related transfer agreements with the following institutions*:
- Arcadia University
- Moore College of Art & Design
2-D and 3-D Design
- Neumann University
- Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
- Rosemont College
- Rowan University
- Temple University
- University of the Arts
- Universidad del Sagrado
Corazón (Located in Puerto Rico)
*Subject to change. Please review the College’s website at www.ccp.edu for the most updated transfer agreement information.
Plenty of people dream of becoming rock stars, but few know the realities of the music industry, whether in the spotlight or working behind the scenes. Students at Community College of Philadelphia, however, are among those in the know and are finding themselves well positioned for jobs in the industry as well as advanced study.
Students come from a variety of backgrounds, from those just learning to read music to seasoned musicians who have been composing and performing for years. They also come to the College with a variety of goals, including professional performance, music production, sound engineering for television and film, music education, and preparation for advanced study in music theory and history.
Under the auspices of the College’s Music department, three degree programs are offered: Music – Performance option, Music – Non-Performance option, and Sound Recording and Music Technology (SRMT). The two Music programs prepare students for transfer to a four-year college or university, where they can continue to refine their skills. The SRMT program prepares students to enter the job market and includes a required internship that gives them real-world experience before graduation. In all of the programs, both theoretical and applied knowledge are taught, giving students not just marketable skills, but a broader context within which to place them.
According to Joo Won Park, Ph.D., assistant professor of Music, “The program is small enough to allow plenty of individual attention, but big enough to foster a sense of community and a professional network.”
In addition to size, another strength of the College’s music programs is the focus on composition, made possible by a talented faculty with a wide range of expertise, from classically-oriented composition to cutting-edge electronic work. The general composition classes emphasize the fundamentals of music composition, which can then be applied to any musical genre; no one style is enforced, and students can chart their own musical path. Rather than specializing in a single instrument, students are expected to become proficient with a variety. Robert Ross, head of the Music department, emphasized that “a breadth of knowledge is crucial for success in this program and in the music industry.”
It is not just performers and composers who need a strong working knowledge of how music is created and performed. Students in the Sound Recording and Music Technology curriculum are expected to understand music theory as well as production by the time they exit the program with an Associate in Applied Science degree. To be successful, students must demonstrate basic musicianship as well as the theoretical, historical and technological knowledge required to understand how music is created, understood and performed. The program also teaches students the fundamentals of the music business, so that they can market musical products including audio and video recordings, live concerts and printed music.
The College is well equipped with industry standard equipment and software, so students learn the intricacies of pre- and postproduction of music and multimedia using the same technology they will use in the workplace. This, coupled with the required internship, helps to ensure that graduates are well prepared for careers as broadcast technicians, sound recording technicians, music production staff, artist agents, concert managers and other vital music industry professions.
Students also benefit from instructors who are actively working in the industry. Joo Won Park is a rising star among modern composers. He produces music by recording everyday sounds—as well as some more unusual ones—and designing his own “instruments” from these sounds, using specialized programs to process the sounds via computer. Some of the programs are so specialized, in fact, that he codes them himself, line by line. It is a painstaking process, but one that yields spectacular results. The resulting compositions have been described as soundscapes, richly layered and subtly nuanced.
In a new course called Electronic Ensemble, offered at the College for the first time this fall, Park will teach students the elements of his technique. By recording, amplifying, looping and otherwise processing sounds, they will learn to create their own virtual instruments and electronic compositions.
Another faculty member garnering recognition for his work in electronica—and sharing this passion with students—is Paul Geissinger. An internationally known producer, remixer and DJ, Geissinger also runs two record labels. Outside the classroom, he has a wide range of duties that include writing concert music for acoustic instruments, recording and performing electronic music, scouting and signing musical talent, and promoting artists and events. Inside the classroom—as well as the media lab—Geissinger’s breadth of experience allows him to impart valuable, real-world knowledge to students.
Geissinger teaches both technical and business-oriented courses within the Sound Recording and Music Technology program. From recording and editing audio files to dealing with distribution licenses and management issues, he prepares students for the realities of working in the music industry. “The industry is changing,” he explained. “It’s important to stay current in order to be successful. And you have to have a musical voice—something that’s unique and interesting.” To help find their musical voice, Geissinger tries to get students thinking creatively. For example, a recent class project involved remixing a Beatles song with original hip hop music created by the students.
Beyond the classroom, students have multiple opportunities to put what they have learned into practice. Members of the College’s choir perform a sophisticated repertoire rivaling that of similar ensembles from four-year music programs. They stage two or three public performances per semester, as well as taped concerts that air on CCPTV, the College’s public education cable channel. The choir collaborates regularly with the choir from nearby Rutgers University—Camden, as well as with the Orchestra Society of Philadelphia, the College’s orchestra in residence. The three groups work together to produce and perform a major choral orchestral concert each spring.
The College also boasts an all-instrumental chamber music ensemble, which performs twice each semester for the College community and the public. Those who attend the performances experience a fresh sound each and every time, as the music for each concert is chosen based on the talents and instruments of a rotating cast of musicians. Recent concerts have featured a string quintet and keyboard concertos by Mozart, Bach and Haydn.
In addition, several jazz ensembles offer audiences a variety of options for enjoying live music in this popular genre. One features jazz guitars, while another includes a full horn section. Like the choir and chamber music ensemble, the jazz ensembles stage multiple performances each semester to showcase their work, including some for CCPTV.
With the depth and breadth of music programs and programming available at the College, at least one is sure to strike the right note for any Philadelphia-area music lover, whether the goal is an evening’s entertainment or an educational foundation for a lifelong music career.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, the collective portfolios of the students in Community College of Philadelphia’s Photographic Imaging program must be worth many volumes of text. Luckily for the College community and the general public, some of the best of this work has been retained in a carefully curated archive dating back more than 35 years. Images from the archive are on display throughout the College and testify to the strength of the program.
Formerly known as Photography, the program name changed to reflect the increasingly diverse kinds of images students and instructors now create and manipulate. Though students still learn the intricacies of shooting and developing their own film, they now also work with digital images, taking high-resolution photos that they then optimize and edit using software programs like Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop. In addition to the College’s collections, this student work is showcased in the literary art magazine Limited Editions and the annual student art calendar.
Going beyond still images, students also have the opportunity to work with digital video, which has been growing in prevalence and popularity as the technology becomes more affordable and widely available, and which now plays an important role in photojournalism. The increasing array of imaging technology has led to the coining of a new term: backpack photojournalism, which takes its name from the current trend of photojournalists carrying not just traditional film cameras but digital cameras capable of both still imaging as well as HD video, and even audio recording equipment to fully capture the rich experiences they seek to document.
The close relationship between digital photography and digital video—and the crossover appeal for both creators and audiences—was one factor in the College’s decision to add a Digital Video Production curriculum within the Photographic Imaging department. Another factor was the input of the department’s advisory board members, whose companies had trouble finding new hires with the skill sets they needed. The program, which will begin in spring 2011, is designed to prepare students for careers in a variety of settings, including television stations. During the course of their studies, students gain valuable experience working with the College’s public education cable channel, CCPTV, as well as through internships at other local TV stations.
After graduation, many Photographic Imaging students who choose to concentrate on still photography go on to apprenticeships or internships with professional photographers, where they may specialize in product photography, portraiture, photojournalism, event photography and even medical photography. With corporate photography jobs becoming scarce as more and more companies outsource creative work, many photographers now work on a freelance basis, a model that often allows for a greater breadth of assignments. Graduates
also find work in service bureaus, where they manage the digital workflow for photographers, including file optimization and photo manipulation.
From photography to digital video to image manipulation, “the field is not static,” says Geoff Berken, professor and head of the Photographic Imaging department at the College. That translates to plenty of room for growth and creative expression, and with the excellent support and state-of-the-art equipment available at the College, graduates are poised for success in this dynamic industry.
Creative Writing at Community College Of Philadelphia
Not all art involves visual or performance elements. Writing is one such example, and it is flourishing at Community College of Philadelphia, thanks in large part to the creativity, enthusiasm and experience of both faculty and students. The College offers a certificate program in Creative Writing that is complemented by a Creative Writing club, multiple student publications, writing contests and even an annual festival.
The certificate program prepares students for transfer to a bachelor’s or master’s writing program, depending on the credentials they have upon arrival at the College; some already have degrees and are simply seeking to upgrade their writing skills and polish their style. The 33-credit program includes literature as well as writing courses and provides plenty of opportunities for students to interact with—and learn from—published writers.
Students may focus on a variety of approaches, including poetry, fiction, memoir and script writing. The capstone portfolio development course guides them in developing their work for publication, as well as exploring writing as a profession.
Classes in the Creative Writing curriculum are both supportive and challenging, providing a community for students to share their work with other writers. This ongoing interaction and feedback helps writers to grow in their craft and produce increasingly complex and nuanced work, often leading to publication and even awards.
Perhaps most importantly, the program provides guidance from working writers—the College’s faculty includes widely published and award-winning poets and authors who advise and mentor students. Among them are Simone Zelitch, who was recently awarded a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) fellowship in fiction; J. Rufus Caleb, who has also received an NEA grant, as well as grants from the Pew Fellowships, the Samuel S. Fels Fund and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council; Elaine Terranova, whose work has been honored by the NEA, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage; and Quinn Eli, a two-time recipient of Fellowships in Literature from the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts. Students also meet and learn from editors and literary agents, who provide additional insight into the writing life and publishing procedure.
To supplement their classroom learning and mentoring, students also have opportunities to attend readings, workshops, festivals and other special writing-related events. The College’s 2010 Spring Poets and Writers Festival included a Philly authors showcase, in which editors and contributors to Philly Fiction 2 read from the second installment in their anthology series and discussed the editing and publishing process; a panel discussion and screenings of “The Complete Persepolis,” the One Book, One Philadelphia selection for 2010; poetry and fiction readings; a memoir workshop; and a faculty showcase, featuring work by faculty members who also serve as mentors to aspiring writers in the program.
The certificate program, which began in 2006, now has about 100 students registered—a large number for such a new program, according to its director, Simone Zelitch, and one that rivals more established programs at institutions nationwide. Graduates have gone on to earn bachelor’s of fine arts (BFA) and master’s of fine arts (MFA) degrees, and to launch successful writing careers.
Marissa Johnson, who studied writing at the College before the official inception of the certificate program, said, “I have tremendous respect for the Creative Writing faculty at the College. The three fiction courses that I took were invaluable to my development as a writer, and the support of my classmates and instructors provided my first real sense of a writing community.” Johnson went on to earn a BA in English from Temple University and an MFA from the University of Wyoming. She received a Leeway Foundation Transformation Award of $15,000 in recognition of her work.