Viking Spotlight: Josiah King Revives Art Program at SCC

Written by Megan Bednar

[Clinton, N.C.] – Through the years, the full extent of Sampson Community College’s (SCC) art program lay dormant until Josiah King, Art Instructor at SCC, was hired in Summer of 2022. Since his arrival, King has swiftly worked to revive the program– planning to offer two new, in-person art courses and create a brand-new campus art studio for the upcoming Spring 2023 semester. With his leadership, SCC’s renovated program hopes to reach its fullest potential and change students’ lives through offering more educational opportunities in the field of art.

Graduating from Hobbton High School (HHS) in 2008, King fell in love with artistry from an early age. In 2012, he obtained his B.S. in Fine Arts from the University of Mount Olive (UMO). King went on to earn his Master of Fine Arts, Painting from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, and in 2020, a Graduate Certificate in Art History from Lindenwood University as well. King’s work was highly acclaimed throughout both his high school and college years, receiving the Congressional Art Award in 2008 at HHS, Art Student of the Year Award in 2013 at UMO, and the Burke Graduate Painting Award in his MFA class.

Besides receiving numerous accolades, King was also chosen to represent Sampson County for a year in Washington, D.C. in 2008; accepted into the North Carolina Museum of Art’s 2012 Exhibition: “Self, Observed;” selected for the North Carolina Artists Exhibition; and most recently approved for an Artist Support Grant to help support the creation of new paintings in his studio, now located in Downtown Clinton, over the 2023 season.

Throughout graduate school, King mentioned that he had been searching for ways to express his faith and connection to God through art. While this remains an important aspect in King’s artistry, he eventually realized that an additional theme was needed– something broader, another subject he could use throughout his whole career. One day, he happened to recall what an instructor once told him: “When something stops you in your tracks, pay attention.” This led King to developing another core idea, besides his faith, that would inspire his artwork for years to come: Beauty in everyday life.

He elaborated, “Obtaining a MFA degree in Painting is all about developing what you want to say, and how you want to say it. I found this expression in the most interesting place while I was walking to my studio one day, after being struck by something a teacher once told me. I noticed the brilliant reflection of light on the tiled hall floor. The colors I observed were so beautiful to me, and I appreciated the contrast between the well-worn, forgotten surface, and the light streaming in through the window. I had been searching for a way to express my faith and a connection to God, but in a way, this felt genuine to me. My graduate thesis focused on the reflective surfaces of floors and walls found in the old buildings near my studio. My work became focused on moments of beauty found in everyday things.”

Waiting for artistic essentials such as easels to arrive, King expects SCC’s new art studio to be fully completed in January 2023. He has worked incredibly hard to provide students with new art courses and a studio where they can let their creativity shine.

For over six years, King has taught art courses at the college level, leading classes such as Art Appreciation, Drawing, Painting, Art History, and Two-Dimensional Design at UMO, Barton College, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Wilson Community College, and now Sampson CC.

Recently hired at SCC as a full-time art instructor in August of 2022, King explained that he was originally invited to only teach Art Appreciation in the Spring, but was thrilled when a full-time position opened up. Much of his early life and family history had been in Sampson County, so he was quite excited to make the transition back to Clinton. Over the past few months, King voiced that he has thoroughly enjoyed his time at SCC because of the exceptional students and colleagues he gets to work with every day.

“I have had so many people support me as I’ve become part of the Sampson Community College family,” King expressed. “Crystal White, Department Chair of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Fine Arts, has worked so hard to help put the art program into motion, and to help me acclimate to the SCC environment. I’ve also appreciated the efforts of Jennifer Eavenson, Division Chair of Arts and Sciences; Blair Hairr, Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs; and Dr. Bill Starling, President; to make this art studio a reality. It is truly a team effort, and I am so grateful for the support of those who have already built an exciting community college experience.”

The revived art program at SCC is set to offer multiple new, in-person course offerings beginning in Spring 2023 including: Drawing I, Painting I, and of course, Art Appreciation. Located in the Kitchin Building, Room 206, SCC’s new campus art studio will house the upcoming Drawing and Painting courses upon its completion in January 2023.

King remarked that the new studio will be a place to understand artistic concepts, techniques, and purposes while exploring art materials like pencil, charcoal, and acrylic paint in a hands-on way. Drawing I and Painting I, specifically, will explore the basics of the materials, teach students how to draw and paint based on a visual, and how to express individual ideas through art. In the future, King hopes to start a rotation that also includes Drawing II and Painting II, as well as Art History Survey I and II for students.

“Whether you want to be a professional artist or you would like to try something a bit different outside of your major, these studio classes provide the environment needed to help you think creatively and constructively,” he motivated. “So much of art is about problem solving and self-reflection, so expect to learn things about yourself and the world that will help you in whatever major you choose. Another very important aspect of taking an art class at Sampson Community College is the artistic camaraderie that forms around you as you pursue artmaking with your peers. There is an easel waiting for you! Bring your creative curiosity, and let’s make some art!”

Whether degree or non-degree seeking, high school or adult learners, SCC’s new art courses and studio will open various opportunities and a new artistic world to all Sampson County students and beyond. Thanks to King’s expertise and contributions to the revival of the dormant program, Sampson CC plans to continue offering a wide range of art courses to the community, starting in Spring 2023, for many years to come.

King concluded, “A big reason for my move was the desire to build something of value. While teaching at different colleges can be exciting, I have not had the opportunity to watch an art program grow! I am very excited to see both an art program and art community grow at Sampson CC. There is something special about the excitement I hear in the voices of students when they hear about the new art classes they are able to take. I can tell that it is going to become an important space for students to express themselves and learn more about who they are as creative individuals. It’s so exciting!”

The new Spring 2023 courses at Sampson CC are open to all, including Career and College Promise (CCP) and Sampson Early College High School (SECHS) students. Each art course is transferable as a general education elective. While early registration for the Spring 2023 semester at SCC has already closed, late registration opens on January 4, 2023 from 9am-6pm. Be sure to mark your calendars to enroll, spots are going fast!

For more information about SCC, its course offerings, or how to enroll, visit www.sampsoncc.edu.

About Sampson Community College:  Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options and early college education.