Art Program Continues to Evolve as It Develops Promising Artists

June 18, 2015 -- At any given time you can walk around CNM’s campuses and see intriguing artwork done by students that piques your imagination -- all courtesy of the college’s Art Department.
Art Program Continues to Evolve as It Develops Promising Artists

Jul 17, 2015

There are colorful chalk drawings, benches with knitted covers, paintings in multiple genres, sculptures made out of tape or cardboard and much more.

Over the past two decades, CNM's art offerings have grown from three elective classes into a bona-fide, highly regarded arts program, offering associate degrees in Fine Arts with concentrations in art history and art studio.

As a testament to the reputation and high quality of CNM's art program, yesterday the college officially joined forces with the National Hispanic Cultural Center to create the National Hispanic Arts Institute and Workshop, a maker-space designed to nurture, enrich and expand the artistic and entrepreneurial experiences of Albuquerque's artists, local and national art aficionados and art students. CNM art faculty members will teach classes and workshops at the new institute, which will include offerings for CNM art students.


The CNM community has long been aware of the high quality of art produced by students, who often display their work publicly around the college.

"Every term we display the students' artwork around campus," said CNM long-time art instructor Lynn Johnson. "This gives recognition to the students who worked hard to make their creations and to let the CNM community see what they are doing."

Hundreds of students take art classes each term – most of them not art majors. But some become converts and change their majors to art.

"The classes all have a very structured curriculum," said Cheryl Dietz, who teaches art at the Montoya Campus and, starting in the Fall Term, will be the new chair of the Art, Music and Theatre departments. "At the beginning they learn basic skills and then progress in a step-by-step process. Some students come with more skills than others, but the others rapidly catch up."

She added that the 25 full- and part-time faculty members in the Art Department are very supportive of their students and make special efforts to attend their exhibitions and shows. They also encourage the students to find ways to participate in Albuquerque's art community. They are encouraged to visit artist's studios, help paint murals, participate in public art projects and frequently view art at galleries and museums.

The Art Department has also initiated an Arts Fandango, a fundraiser for The Ernest Garcia Emerging Artist scholarship honoring former CNM art instructor Ernest Garcia. The most recent fundraiser featured a silent auction of artwork donated by the college's faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as local professional artists.

"All of our studio faculty are professional artists, who have exhibitions and many curate exhibits" Johnson said. "As a result, the CNM Art Department has an excellent relationship with Albuquerque's art community. We have connections with art magnates such as Tamarind, 516 ARTS, Mariposa Gallery, Exhibit 208, Down Town Contemporary Gallery, Harwood Art Center, Factory on Fifth, Sheri Crider Arts, Park Fine Arts, The Stranger Factory, New Grounds, Free Style Gallery, South Broadway Cultural Center, the Albuquerque Museum and many, many individual artists," Johnson said.


Art majors receiving associate degrees are encouraged to transfer to the University of New Mexico or another four-year institution to complete their bachelor of fine arts degrees. All CNM art courses are transferable to UNM, and CNM has adapted its requirements to meet UNM's curriculum.

Over the years CNM's art program has expanded, exponentially adding unique classes that many schools don't offer. One such course is Art Career Concerns, which teaches students how to build a professional art career. They learn how to put together a portfolio, set up a studio so it's safe, how to write letters to galleries to market their work, and much more.

"This course started as a topics course and soon became part of the mainstream curriculum," said Dietz, who wrote the course curriculum. "The class helps the students navigate the art community."

In fall 2017, CNM's Art Department is slated to initiate an online art history degree, one of the first of its kind in the United States. Recently, the art program established an opportunity for its art students to be able to take upper division courses, which helps students earn credit towards their bachelors in fine art, by teaching courses for the Institute of American Indian Arts of Santa Fe at CNM.

"We are proud of our students and make an effort to stay in touch with them even after they graduate," said Lea Anderson, an art instructor at the Westside Campus.

Faculty members promote their current and former students when they have exhibits or other events through social media and other venues.

Anderson touts the amenities of the newly designed Westside Campus art studio, complete with a state-of-the-art ceramics facility. "We have a beautiful space here at the Westside. We are lucky to have an administration who graciously supports us, and understands the value of art."

Learn more about the CNM Fine Arts program.