May 14, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Brilliance at the New Mexico School for the Arts

"The event gave students from all artistic genres of the school a platform to feature their talents"

By Greta Chapin McGill

Santa Fe Fashion and Style

Greta is an artist, writer and renaissance woman

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A straw hat sitting jauntily on the back of his head, Ben, a 9th grade student, proudly showed his mixed media drawing and talked with sincere animation about his admission to a very special school. Ravenna, an 11th grade student, is a vision in an exquisite mini dress she crafted from colorful recycled Morga Coffee bags. Ravenna has made clothing from recycled materials since the 4th grade. These visual arts students, along with their classmates from the New Mexico School for the Arts, celebrated their unique artistic gifts at the ArtSpring 2012 Exhibition in Santa Fe.

New Mexico School for the Arts was created to provide an opportunity to nurture artistic talent from across the state. This unique educational alternative gives high school students regardless of financial or geographical concerns a venue in which to learn compatible with their artistic sensibilities.

The event gave students from all artistic genres of the school a platform to feature their talents. At the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Education Annex, the visual arts students displayed their work. Easily identifiable by their whimsical headgear, students circulated speaking confidently to parents and supporters about their school and their work. The enthusiasm was contagious. These students gain admission to NMSA by submitting an essay speaking to their particular artistic goals; they audition and submit a portfolio. Needless to these are some of the most talented young artists in the state.

Students at NMSA are guided by caring instructors. As one proud parent expressed it, “they understand the difference in how these students learn.” NMSA students are encouraged to accept and embrace the eclectic way they express themselves. They come from all over the state. From the Pueblos of Nambe and Santa Clara to Roswell and Las Cruces. One of the major fundraising goals for NMSA is securing new academic building space and residential facilities so more students can benefit from this remarkable educational jewel in Santa Fe.

NMSA founder and Board Chair, Catherine Oppenheimer is a recipient of the 2012 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts. This effusive energetic individual is the driving force behind NMSA. It was her vision to create a way to provide educational opportunities for young artists regardless of financial capacity or geographical constraints. Students study traditional academic courses from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., from 2:30 p.m to 5 p.m., they study with master instructors in their fields of interest. The state pays for their academic day but the arts programs and residential facilities are paid for through private donations. So if you are looking for a Santa Fe-based program to support, look no further than NMSA.

The event moved on to the Lensic Performing Arts Center, where performing arts students enthralled the audience with dance, vocal, and musical selections and a short play. Performances showed the students variety of studies from classical selections by Mozart and Vivaldi to African American spirituals and contemporary American composer Hoagy Carmichael. The level of performance was extraordinary and the costumes breathtaking.

NMSA has become part of a network of 250 schools throughout the US that nurture artistic talent. Board Chair Oppenheimer says for every three students that apply, she can only accept one. Sadly, this is due to the lack of residential facilities and the physical size of the school building itself. NMSA vision is a permanent campus where dorms, academics and arts can exist side by side and more students will be able to attend this extraordinary school. Visit the website http://www.nmschoolforthearts.org/ to find out how you can make a difference in the life a hopeful young artist. The New Mexico School for the Arts needs you to help sustain its ability to stay vibrant and creative in Santa Fe.

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