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(AFA) in Studio Arts added to AA Program

By Victor Cordero—


(PCCC student Richard Linares at work)

Passaic County Community College is offering a new degree. The Associate in Fine Arts (AFA) in Studio Arts has been added to the already existing Associate in Arts (AA) in Liberal Arts with a Studio Arts option.

Professor Mary Dajnak is currently an Instructor and the Coordinator of the Studio Arts programs at PCCC.

The proposed AFA degree is consistent with Passaic County Community College’s mission to provide academic, cultural and technological resources and experiences to the residents of Passaic County. Through education, we seek to help bring about more satisfying and productive personal lives, stronger community leadership and a strengthened economic base.

According to the College Art Association’s General Principles and Goals of the Associate of Fine Arts Degree, the primary objective of the AFA degree, typically offered by two-year institutions, is to provide concentrated study in art and/or design at the pre-professional level. In addition to Professor Mary Dajnak, there are four professors currently teaching in the Studio Arts program--Laura Howson, Caroline Falby, Anna Carina Sinocchi, Karla Williams, and Mark Hillringhouse who is on leave for the semester.

Professor Dajnak talked about the importance of the program. According to the U.S. Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of art and design occupations is projected to grow from 2014 to 2024, adding about 16,700 new jobs. The projected growth is due to an expected increase in demand for animation and visual effects in video games, movies, and television. As businesses increase their digital presence, more artists and designers will be needed to help create visually appealing layouts of websites, smartphone apps, and other media platforms.

Locally, the presence of numerous institutions and galleries promote the work of visual artists which include the Paterson Museum, The Art Factory, the Paterson Arts Council, Studio Montclair, Inc., and the Passaic County Cultural and Heritage Commission.

The AFA in Studio Arts degree will provide a degree for Passaic County Community College students and residents of Passaic County that is comparable to what community colleges in neighboring counties offer. Students have been enrolling in the program since the Fall 2019 semester. In addition, the students in the AFA program take 22 general education credits, 29 credits in studio arts. That includes Drawing 1, Drawing 2, 2-D Design, 3-D Design, Color Theory, Painting, Photography, Art History 1, Art History 2, Portfolio Preparation, and 3 electives which they can choose from Art, Graphic Design, and Video Production courses. The program is located at the Wanaque Academic Center and the college provides a free shuttle bus to help students get to and from the campus. Professor Dajnak says that it took a lot of time and research, but putting together the program went along smoothly and it met approval at every level. Consequently, this path will this prepare students for Craft and Fine Art fields, art and design occupations also include Art Directors, Fashion Designers, Graphic Designers, Industrial Designers, and Interior Designers. Additional jobs available in the arts include art conservators, illustrators, cartoonists, museum and gallery curators, exhibition designers, commercial photographers, digital animators, master printers, arts facilities managers, educators, art therapists, and artsadministrators. Many of these careers require at least a BA in Art.

Professor Dajnak believes that anyone who plans to continue their education in an art related career should be taking the AFA program. This program offers all of the courses required during the first two years of an art program at most 4 year colleges and universities. The student will be prepared to transfer with a strong and varied portfolio of fundamental art courses for most any art related program. The students from the AFA and the AA degrees in studio arts transfer to four-year colleges to continue their studies in various art and design fields.

Professor Dajnak is a multimedia artist combining drawing and printmaking techniques in abstract works consisting of layers of architecturally suggestive images. She is a recipient of many grants, including a Fulbright Grant to the Academy of Fine Arts. Krakow, Poland, and an individual artist grant from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts,

Professor Dajnak is a graduate of Temple University’s Tyler School of Art with a BFA in Printmaking, and the University of Pennsylvania with an MFA in Printmaking and Painting. Recently, while working and teaching in Ohio, Mary was the owner of Studio M Printmakers in Toledo, a community-based studio and gallery. Professor Dajnak did not train to be a professor. Actually, she trained to be an artist, more specifically- a printmaker. Having a Master's degree in her field qualifies her to teach at the college level and allows her to continue to develop my artwork while sharing my knowledge and expertise with students.

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