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DCAD presents first Distinguished Alumni Award to 2007 photography grad

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Ann-Marie VanTassell, a professional photographer who owns and operates her own business in the Washington, D.C., area, has received the 2018 Delaware College of Distinguished Alumni Award, the first-ever such honor given by DCAD to one of its graduates.

VanTassell completed an associate of fine arts degree in photography at DCAD in 2007 and was selected to deliver the graduating student address at commencement. In addition to being a leader among DCAD’s photo majors, she had been one of the select students chosen to present at the annual DCAD Art History Symposium and earned the top overall grade-point average in her class. She later earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in photojournalism at the Corcoran College of Art + Design.

Ron Brignac, DCAD’s area coordinator for photography, nominated VanTassell for the award. His nomination cited the strength of the images she created and noted the energy, creativity and work ethic she brought to every class and applied to every assignment.

“Not only did Ann-Marie’s photographic work explore challenging visual opportunities,” he recalled, “but her positive attitude and quick wit enlivened the classroom and her intelligence helped expand the educational opportunities of classroom lessons.”

Ann-Marie VanTassell Photography operates under a philosophy that reflects the open, inquisitive student VanTassell was at DCAD: “I have a curiosity for the world and my surroundings,” she state. “My camera gives me a purpose. It allows me an excuse to be there, present for the experience.” Her efforts have landed her a place among Expertise.com’s “20 Best Washington, D.C., Wedding Photographers” and allowed her to maintain a five-star rating on WeddingWire.com. Clients emphasize her style, artistry, professionalism and ability to capture the emotion, spirit and essence of the moments she immortalizes.

Outside her photography business, VanTassell is active with The Arcade, a group dedicated to keeping art education accessible in D.C. neighborhoods. She also has been a resident artist at Washington’s Pleasant Plains Workshop. During last year’s DCAD@20 exhibitions, the pieces she showed included images from the NASCAR photojournalism series she previously exhibited at Pleasant Plains.

The DCAD Distinguished Alumni Award was created last year as part of the College’s 20th anniversary observance. President Jean Dahlgren presented VanTassell with the honor during a Nov. 14 dinner for major supporters of DCAD, which was held on campus in the Toni & Stuart B. Young Gallery.

“In addition to recognizing the support that makes Delaware College of Art and Design possible, this event is about recognizing what DCAD itself makes possible: that is, a successful future in art and design,” Dahlgren said. “Ann-Marie, you are an outstanding example of an art and design professional, and you are an exceptional representative of DCAD’s students – past, present and future.”

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