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NOVA students featured in photography exhibit

Three Northern Virginia Community College students displayed their photographic skills during the recent FotoWeekDC exhibit. Alexandria resident Judy Heffner and Woodbridge residents Rose Virgil-Jones and Michelle Wittkoff were encouraged to enter the show by their photography professors Sarah Raymond and Gail Rebhan.

Heffner is a graduate of the photography program at NOVA’s Alexandria Campus and continues to take courses at the campus. She entered “Chinatown Alley” in the exhibit because “the shapes and colors in the image had an appealing geometry in the abstract sense. I liked the fact that the man in the picture was eclipsed by everything around him yet everything led into him. It made him look insignificant, almost anonymous.”

Heffner’s work has been displayed at several venues, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Alexandria City Hall, Del Ray Artisans Gallery, Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center, Aldie Mill Historic Park, Tyler Teaching Gallery, and the Art League Gallery at the Torpedo Factory.

“I think photography is a powerful medium,” Heffner said. “It can inform, entertain or move people to action. I love making original images. I always strive to see ordinary people and objects in their customary surroundings from a different angle, to portray their uniqueness and have an impact on the viewer.”  

Virgil-Jones is taking photography and art courses at NOVA’s Woodbridge Campus. Her entries, “The Hood 1” and “The Hood 3,” portray street scenes.

“These images were chosen because they represent what is left of the old neighborhood where I grew up and I felt that the viewer would feel what I saw,” said Virgil-Jones who was born and raised in Washington, D.C., but now lives in Woodbridge.

She is currently taking an advanced photography course to improve her skills. Her photos have been published in the book “Documenting the New Northern Virginia” and displayed at NOVA’s campuses in Alexandria and Woodbridge.

Wittkoff is pursuing a photography degree at NOVA’s Woodbridge Campus. The photo she entered in the show, “Dupont Produce,” depicts the weekend farmer’s market at Dupont Circle.

“I chose the photo because it best represents the real D.C. with a mix of people representing cultural diversity engaged in buying and selling goods at the market,” she said. “I was interested in exhibiting my work to a wider audience and the exhibit provided a perfect opportunity. It was nice that the University of the District of Columbia offered portraitDC as a venue for student photographers throughout the region to show their work featuring the city’s neighborhoods outside the standard tourist areas.”

Wittkoff is enrolled in a class on photographic careers as well as a supervised study course that allows her to work on an independent project. She has completed several other classes including “Electronic Darkroom,” “Studio Lighting,” “Video” and “Digital Imaging.” Her work was last exhibited in the Spring Art Show at the campus.

As part of FotoWeekDC, portraitDC challenged visitors and residents to explore the city on a deeper level, according to the show’s organizers. The exhibition took place Nov. 5 to 13 in Gallery 42 at the University of the District of Columbia.

In addition to NOVA students, portraitDC included works by students at American University, The Corcoran, George Mason University, Howard University, and The University of the District of Columbia. This was the first time these college photography programs collaborated on a show.

To learn more, contact Raymond (sraymond@nvcc.edu) or Rebhan (grebhan@nvcc.edu).

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.