The Scene, Season 2, Ep. 10 - TCC & the VAC: Visualizing Art

by Shannon Bowman

Tidewater Community College’s Visual Art Center is an arts school hiding in plain sight.The center, located on High Street in Portsmouth, draws in students from across all of the Tidewater Community College campuses from all over Hampton Roads.

The facility is open to all TCC art students daily and houses a gallery that is open to the public throughout the week.

Under the current leadership of Executive Director Christina Rupsch, the building hosts a variety of gallery exhibits throughout the year, maintains an active enrollment of art students exceeding 800, employs over 40 professional educators who hold terminal degrees and are active artist and produces many up and coming artist to the Hampton Roads art scene.  
The building features 16 studios and seven Mac computer labs, as well as lighting and video studios, for students to work on projects such as video editing and graphic design. The center’s rooftop glassblowing studio and hot shop, overlooking Olde Towne Portsmouth, is a working classroom for students to learn the popular and delicate art of studio glass.

Students can earn Associate of Applied Arts degrees in studio arts and Associate of Applied Science degrees in graphic design. Within the studio arts, students can specialize in pre-art therapy, photography and glass. Students also take fundamentals of design, as part of the program’s core curriculum.

All students are encouraged to submit their work for publishing in the school’s student art magazine, 340 High Street and can also take part in the annual Student Art and Design Exhibition.

A 2,000 square foot gallery welcomes students when they enter the building. Past exhibits have featured the work of students and faculty as well as local artists, including Charlotte Potter and Robin and Julia Rogers. The center is also home to the Anne S. Iott Permanent Art Collection of Tidewater Community Colleges and the Hisayuki Yamaie Collection of silkscreen prints.  

The gallery’s newest exhibit, entitled Making Their Mark: Classical & Contemporary Drawings, opens July 11 and features the work of local artists utilizing varying techniques in drawing.

To learn more about the VAC, and maybe even take a class, visit


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