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RCCC steps into culture at event

CONCORD — An infusion of culture, music, drama, literature and fine arts descended upon Concord on April 4 thanks to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
This year’s event, Step into Culture, was a collaboration of Rowan-Cabarrus departments of fine arts and English. It was held at the Clearwater Artist Studios and Gallery in downtown Concord.
“Many of our students at Rowan-Cabarrus are managing family responsibilities, a career, and the demands of their studies. Consequently, they may not have the time or means to appreciate literature and the fine arts,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of the college. “Step into Culture was a special one-day event that we created to make sure that our students have an opportunity to engage in activities and celebrations focusing on literature and fine arts.”
Students were encouraged to take short videos of the day’s events and share them on social media. The clips will be used to document the event and publicize future initiatives.
Performances included student drama demonstrations, directed by instructors Heather Wilson and Tommy Bradley and songs performed by the college’s chorus, directed by instructor Caroline Simyon. In the fall, the college will offer four levels of the chorus class. A poetry slam and open mic performances gave students an opportunity for impromptu engagement.
As part of the event, the creative writing award winners were honored and asked to present. The winners were: “The Rest of Us,” by Dylan Hull for poetry; “The Deal,” by Sarah Di Musto for fiction; “A Memory We Fear,” by Allyson Young for creative non-fiction; and “A New Leaf” by Kristi Westphal for academic writing.
“The piece of poetry was inside of me; it didn’t really come from anywhere, but I found it inside of me and put it down on paper,” said Hull, a 2011 graduate of East Rowan High School. Hull will graduate from Rowan-Cabarrus in May and continue his education at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro this fall.
The Impulse Art Exhibition included artwork from more than 50 students and college instructors. The show was open to any student at Rowan-Cabarrus and included paintings, prints, photography, sculpture, videography and digital artworks.
“The exhibition is a great opportunity for students to share their creative work with the community,” said Jenn Selby, program chair of the department of fine arts and instructor of photography and visual arts at Rowan-Cabarrus. “They love talking about their work and it benefits them professionally.”
In particular, one participant in the Impulse Art Exhibition has benefited.
“If I didn’t come to Rowan-Cabarrus, I wouldn’t have pursued an art career,” said Amelia Thomas, who will be graduating in May and continuing her education at the University of North Carolina’s School of the Arts. Getting into the School of the Arts is extremely competitive. Thomas, a Cabarrus-Kannapolis Early College student, will study in the film program.
The department of fine arts plans to offer an associate in applied science degree in advertising and graphic design in the fall. Also this fall, the college will offer new music and drama specializations within the AFA program. Everything from chorus classes to the history of rock music to American musical theater will be available. Additionally, the program, working closely with the NC Music Hall of Fame, has developed an introduction to jazz class.
“Step into Culture was a diverse, cultural experience with music, live demonstrations, poetry, spoken word, a student art gallery, food trucks and vendor tables, a sense of community, and more,” said Jenny Billings Beaver, chair of English, developmental reading and English and ACA (academic-related) courses at Rowan-Cabarrus. She also co-chaired the development of Step into Culture. “I couldn’t be more proud of our faculty and staff who made this event possible for our students and the community.”
The event was sponsored in part by the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Foundation. NOMAD Aquatics and Fitness, Pearson Education and Barnes and Noble are providing in-kind donations. The event was held in collaboration with the Cabarrus Arts Council, the city of Concord and the Clearwater Artist Studios and Gallery and the Gibson Village Association.
The college was proud to host Step into Culture in conjunction with the annual Salisbury Sculpture Tour. In recent years, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has been honored to host at least one sculpture from the tour and has continued its participation this year. This year the North Campus hosts a sculpture by Chassity Miller, a Greensboro-based artist.
For more information about future events, please contact Beaver (704-216-3797) or Selby (704-216-3820). For additional information about Rowan-Cabarrus, please visit www.rccc.edu or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).
The Impulse Art Exhibition at Clearwater Artist Studios and Gallery will be on display through May 3.

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