Since 2004, the program has been bringing in artists in the community to help mentor the students in the schools and teach them more about the various arts
Evee Trujillo was covered in white specs of plaster and glue as she sat in the hallway at Taos Middle School working on a tile mosaic.
"I like doing the animals most," she said as she pointed to a small horse made of tile pieces.
Trujillo has been involved with the Visiting Artists program at Taos Municipal Schools since she was in second grade. Now in sixth grade, she said she hopes to continue art and loves creating something new.
Since 2004, the program has been bringing in artists in the community to help mentor the students in the schools and teach them more about the various arts. Music, dance, theater and visual arts are the focus of the program and students have the chance to work with 21 artists to find a medium they are interested in. The program is available to students up to sixth grade and involves artists coming in during school and working with the students on their projects.
"We're losing a lot of our culture and traditions," said Tanya Vigil, the coordinator of the program. She said she sees art as a way to help students learn about their culture.
Vigil took over the program in 2006 and has brought in a variety of artists to share their talents with the students including musicians, dancers and mosaic artist Christopher Taylor.
Taylor and his wife, Debi, have been working with students like Trujillo since 2010 and have created several murals with students in most of the schools in Taos. Most recently, the artist duo has been working with elementary and middle school students on tile mosaics in the schools. Students are allowed to work with the artists and even get a chance to learn the mosaic process through the Taylors' teachings.
"Nobody's picked pieces off of it, nobody's put marker on, it's amazing," Taylor said. "It's like a piece of awe."
Taylor first discusses the mural with the students and asks them what they would want to see in the mosaic. Students then turn in drawings and from those, Taylor creates a rough sketch of the future mosaic.
In the case of mosaic learning, Debi and Christopher show the students how to cut tiles, plaster the glue as well as grout the final mural.
"Instead of watching how this works, we can feel how it works," said student Diego Loera. "I'm proud. I can tell my brother I worked on this."
The Visiting Artists program is funded in part through the New Mexico Fine Arts Educations Act as well as various other sources of funding Vigil can grab for the students. Vigil said that part of the reason she took up the helm of the program was to ensure the continuation of arts in schools.
"Art is so important," she said. "The kids just love it. I think it's something that kids will never be exposed to [otherwise]."
Visual arts is just one small component of the program - Vigil said there are also third-graders working on a new play to showcase soon.
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