Barton College Academic Programs

Visual Communications


Degrees Offered:

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


At Barton, you’ll find one of the state’s foremost small-college art programs with a faculty that includes award-winning teachers and internationally recognized artists. Our art and design major will develop your skills in visual literacy, color and composition, design and typography, and digital imaging. At the same time, you’ll be trained in creative problem solving, and you’ll learn to offer effective solutions in the business world. While we emphasize the computer as a design tool and experimentation with electronic media, we also teach traditional hands-on approaches to art. As a result, you’ll develop a thorough historical, analytical, and theoretical understanding of art and design.

Special Features

Barton’s art professors are working artists who exhibit regionally, nationally, and internationally; serve as professional art judges; and publish and design professionally.

Visual Communications is a cross-disciplinary major encompassing visual design, photography, video, and audio to provide a desired set of abilities for the current culture and economy. The curriculum is designed to provide professional training and theoretical preparation in studio arts and mass communication. The degree’s business perspective, combined with aesthetic and technical sensibilities, will prepare graduates for positions within the advertising, entertainment, and media industries.

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Course Information

Coursework in the major begins with a broad-based preparatory program that combines practical skills with theory in the areas of general drawing, 2-D composition, 3-D design, journalism, broadcast/video, and audio recording. These courses develop your conceptual thinking and visualization skills and provide an understanding of the history of art, design, and media. With this as your foundation, you’ll then tailor courses to your individual interests. Through your coursework, you’ll learn about techniques as well as aspects of professional practice, all of which are further developed through studio-based projects and real-world learning.

In your junior year, you’ll take a portfolio course to prepare for a required portfolio review in which you’ll show ten pieces of art that demonstrate your fundamental skills. As a senior, you’ll build a professional portfolio that demonstrates your aesthetic and technical skills and shows that you’re prepared to work in the art and media industry or to proceed to graduate school.
Barton’s Department of Art and Design offers studio experiences in four areas: Photography, Graphic Design, 2-D Design/Painting and 3-D Design.

The Photography courses instill personal vision and technical proficiency. Using traditional, digital, and nineteenth-century methods, you’ll develop the skills necessary to express your vision and communicate your ideas. The photography darkroom has 18 enlargers, a separate lighting studio, and the capacity for teaching traditional black-and-white and color photography.

The Design concentration blends the conceptual with the technical. Through innovative graphic design work for print and web, you’ll master problem solving and communication skills that lead to creative design solutions. Coursework allows you to investigate traditional media and computer imaging, as well as study the history of design and illustration, and gain exposure to other disciplines and cultures. The design computer lab offers PCs and Apple computers loaded with industry-standard software.

The Audio Recording Technology courses utilize the professional Sara Lynn Riley Kennedy Recording Studio, which offers a large format analog console and a full complement of microphones and processors.

Broadcast/Video Production courses utilize the production facilities of WEDT, Barton College’s educational television station. The WEDT studio, Phyllis Parish Howard Control Room, and editing labs feature the equipment, cameras, computers, and software that you need to explore the broadcast/video field. Student productions include news shows, public affairs shows, special programs, and dramatic shorts. These productions are broadcast on Time Warner Cable in Wilson.

Courses in the Journalism concentration will be directly on the front lines of news gathering and writing through participation in the campus newspaper, The Collegiate, using industry-standard computers and software to prepare for employment upon graduation. Students will also be trained in using the Internet and social media as part of multimedia news delivery.

Public Relations courses will develop practical skills that will help you pursue a career in the professional communications industry. Specifically, students will learn the values and ethics of public relations, how to write for public relations, and the strategic planning and execution of public relations campaigns.

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Scholarships and Financial Aid

The Bessie Massengill Art Scholarship is awarded annually to a student selected by the Art and Design faculty and majoring in art.

The Triangle East Advertising and Marketing Association Scholarship is awarded annually to an upper-class student majoring in graphic design who is a resident of eastern North Carolina and who intends to be employed in a related field in eastern North Carolina.

The Rom and Marie Watson Art Scholarship is awarded to a student seeking a studio art degree. The Department of Art and Design faculty choose a recipient based on the artistic merit of the student’s work through the process of portfolio reviews, with preference given to student who participated in the Scholastic Art Awards.

The department also awards the Stuart Walston, Inc. Endowed Scholarship and the Price-Watson Annual Scholarship to qualified students.

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Our students have interned at:

  • The Women’s United Soccer Association
  • Duke Press
  • Herald-Sun, Durham, N.C.
  • Carolina Mudcats
  • Advanced Rehabilitation Seminars Company
  • The Arts Council of Wilson
  • Barrett’s Printing House
  • Theatre at Barton
  • Carolina Cabinet Company
  • The Collegiate, Barton College’s Student Newspaper
  • Creative Graphics
  • Hendersonville Printing Company
  • Images Photography Inc.
  • Jerico Screen Printing
  • Wilson County Fair
  • Reynolda House
  • Signature Dance Company
  • Type A Design Concepts
  • Wilson Times
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Career Opportunities

In addition to work in the creative arts, an art degree may lead to careers in many applied art fields. Our alumni work as:

  • Art Directors
  • Commercial Photographers
  • Graphic Artists
  • Designers
  • Gallery Directors
  • Industrial Designers
  • Photo Retouchers
  • Photofinisher Specialists
  • Photojournalists
  • Public Relations Directors
  • Stage Designers
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Clubs and Organizations

The Art Students’ League of Barton College hosts bi-weekly meetings and cookouts, and sponsors student exhibitions.

The Friends of Visual Arts organizes lectures and exhibitions, and brings to Barton College visiting artists of regional, national, and international status.

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