A little bit of everything
What do a photographer, artist, art teacher, young adult short story writer and cheerleading coach have in common? They’re all identities Carley Fetty can claim.
“My husband, Joe Fetty of Fetty Performance Concepts, says I am the master of the side hustle because of all the things I do in my ‘down time,’” Fetty said. “When I’m not teaching I own and operate a wedding photography business called CYork Photography.”
She said she has photographed more than 70 weddings in many locations including Cancun, Colorado, Ohio, South Carolina and Massachusetts.
“I also coached cheerleading for many years at (Prince Edward County Public Schools), make and sell cheer bows and I write young adult short stories,” Fetty said. “I like to jump around a lot between my different artistic passions, it keeps things interesting.
Like many, Fetty is a Farmville transplant. She grew up in Alexandria and cites that growing up in that area influenced her love for art.
“Being so close to Washington D.C. and Old Town Alexandria, as well as having the multiple military bases nearby allowed me to meet people from all walks of life and learn about different cultures and art at a young age,” Fetty said.
Fetty graduated from Longwood University in 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts and a concentration in photography. She also studied young adult literature as an undeclared minor. Fetty said she moved to Farmville for college and never looked back.
“The first time I saw Farmville was the middle of the night in December. Main Street was all lit up for the holidays and Campus was all but deserted. I actually only got to see The Cunningham dorms, which was arguably one of the uglier buildings on campus at the time,” Fetty said. “But it didn’t matter, I completely fell in love with the town and the campus and the traditions I read about online.”
She said she relocated her husband, Joe, who is from Chesterfield, to the area shortly after they met.
Fetty said she was given her first film camera in seventh grade.
“Something about being in the dark room and being able to completely create every aspect of that art, from the moment you lifted the camera to your eye, all the way through hanging it to dry fresh out of the developer,” she said. “Then my senior year I lost my father suddenly to heart disease and at that moment I felt like the only thing I could have control in my life was my art, so I threw myself into creating and relished that time I could spend on my own with my own thoughts in the dark room creating those prints.”
She made her foray into teaching art, “pretty unconventionally,” right out of college as a park ranger for the Virginia State Parks.
“Of course I was leading hikes and teaching canoeing, but I was also teaching crafts using the outdoors as inspiration and using natural materials,” Fetty said. “It wasn’t until I think 2014 that the Prince Edward Middle School art teacher position opened and it was suggested that I apply.”
Fetty said she taught at the middle school for three years and now teaches at the high school, “which I’m excited about and really looking forward to building upon the artists who taught her before me.”
She said the art she teaches is more important than the act of teaching it.
“These days students can learn things a multitude of ways that we didn’t have access to as kids,” Fetty said. “So I am constantly having to learn and relearn ways to teach things to my classes. I am not scared to tell them, ‘Hey I don’t know how to do that, let’s learn together.’”
She said in a hands on class like art, it’s more often the end result and the skill that students take way that will stick with them, not the way the teacher taught it to them.
“I start every semester by telling my classes that, whether they realize it or not, they are all an artist. They are a master at something, it could be writing, acting, painting, drawing, fashion, singing … each and every one of them is an artist we just have to explore and discover what their medium is,” Fetty said. “And when they find that medium they will have a better understanding of how to express themselves and how they can grow and contribute to a world that craves and needs more art and more inspiration.”
One thing she said people may be surprised to know about her is that even though she’s been a photographer for as long as she can remember, “I hate having my picture taken.”
“I just can’t stand being in front of the camera and usually hate all photos taken of me,” Fetty said.
Fetty was the first place winner at the Supporting Outstanding Urban Projects (SOUP) for the student mural project, which received $2,000. The project has adorned walls throughout Farmville with murals from students. She said she and her husband are expecting their first child, Oliver, whose due date is in May.