The UNM-Taos Digital Media Arts Program has attracted students of all ages with its dynamic, forward-looking classes.
Currently Chaired by Peter Walker, the Digital Media Arts in Taos has a serious buzz.
I’ve known Peter for a long time and was included in his film (Remarkable Women of Taos), so I was delighted to discover he was involved with this Program. Peter was born in Taos and I’m always thrilled to see people return after time spent travelng and working in the world. The skills they bring back with them, propel our community forward in the best possible way.
Peter got his Masters Degree in Education from the University of Oregon and years later decided he wanted to amp up his creative career so bought a one-way ticket to India and attended the Asian Academy of Film and Television in New Delhi, India. Upon graduating from the Director’s program he travelled into the Himalayas of Bhutan and collaborated on a documentary project about their Buddhist Kingdoms’ transition to Democracy. He then flew to Malaysia where he worked as a freelance filmmaker for three years in South East Asia. The jungle and oceans were exciting but his heart yearned for the four seasons of the high desert. Back in Taos he teamed up with creative powerhouses; Dustin Sweet, Dave Mansfield, Melanie Redmond and others to create the Taos Media Collective. You can find the Taos Media Collective on Facebook. And you can find Peter’s latest projects and visual art at
I first found out about DMA late last winter while on my way to the World Cup Cafe, I noticed a few people I knew, including David Mapes, milling around the Plaza with high-end Canon Cameras around their necks or pointed at something or someone.
Intrigued I asked David what was going on, and he kindly explained and showed me some of the images he’d captured. It made total sense that he would sign up for this course, being that he had been recently engaged in re-building both the website and reviving the Taos Gallery Association, itself. These were clearly skills he could and would, put to practical use.
Another person I knew, Hermann, works at Cid’s, and I talked to him as well. He’s currently sitting out this semester (at DMA) in order to get caught up with other classes, but he says the program is exciting and he plans to continue with the next semester.
I was ordering an Americano when Peter walked in with a young woman who looked like she’d just walked in off the NYC streets. Turned out, she had. Jennifer Myers is the Canon Public Relations Manager based in New York, who along with four Canon Trainers, brought twenty cameras to teach a weekend workshop and introduce the opportunity for six students to earn a Canon Sponsorship!
After meeting Dr, Valdez, I decided to talk to a few other members of UNM-Taos Faculty, to see what they thought about the DMA Program.
Randi Archuleta, the Dean of Instruction who moved to Taos originally from California, was friendly and happy to help me fill in a few gaps.
She discussed the evolution of the program with me and suggested I talk to both Enrico Trujillo and Louis Moya.
Both Enrico Trujillo and Louis Moya have deep roots in Taos, and although each left for a period of time, they have both returned in order to contribute something of value to the community they come from, in a conscious attempt to pay all they have learned, forward.
Prior to Peter’s appointment as UNM-Taos DMA Chair, Louis Moya held that position and was in fact the person who initially developed the Program at UNM-Taos.
Louis grew up here and in fact I remember him well from the Taos High School Drama Department, headed at the time by Nancy Jenkins. Both of my daughters were in that class and both worked with Louis (who was a few years their senior and very involved), quite frequently.
After leaving Taos, Louis went at first to UNM in Albuquerque where he studied Filmmaking and received his Undergraduate degree in Cinematic Arts, before moving to the East Coast to study Law. After meeting and marrying his wife Lesley, Louis decided to return to Taos when a job opening at UNM became available.
“I was hired in 2011 to assist with Program Development,” he told me when we talked, “and clearly my legal background was helpful.”
“Especially with regards to paper litigation.” He said.
He is now the Development Officer and Department Chair of UNM-Taos Digital Media Services.
Currently, Louis is working toward his Doctorate in Educational Leadership, in order to further impact the Economic Development of Taos.
“As far as the DMA Program is concerned,” Louis explained, “let’s say I planted the seed, but Peter has contributed so much on his own.”
“His constant input of high energy, his enthusiasm and ability to connect with his students is spectacular,” Louis continued. “I recognized his skills in that regard right away.”
“He is also extremely humble and considerate, which makes him very special, and the fact that he teaches the dual credit courses at the High School, makes him even more of an asset to us.”
Enrico Trujillo echoes those sentiments. Enrico came to UNM-Taos from Albuquerque where he had lived since leaving here as a child.
He initially came to work with Louis in the DMA Program.
Also a graduate of UNM’s Cinematic Arts Program, Enrico has worked in Film and Digital Media Arts for a long time. His background is impressive and his inclusion here at UNM-Taos is a blessing for the community.
Like Louis, Enrico plans to stay. “I spent years making virtual stuff,” he told me, “but I came to Taos, to make real, physical things – to do hands on work with my father.”
It’s hard not to get your hands dirty in Taos and it certainly serves as a healthy balance in regards to his day job. Enrico is the Multimedia Service Specialist at UNM-Taos and works closely with Peter Walker and DMA. In fact, Enrico is responsible for the images in these articles.
“I think Peter has brought great energy along with the strong relationships he has with his students.” Enrico told me. “I appreciate his ability to work with individual students in finding a place that meets their skills.”
Dean Randi Archuleta agrees.
Randi came to Taos originally from California, but says it’s home now. She loves it here and takes her job as Dean of Instruction at UNM-Taos, very seriously.
“In a small town like Taos, the fact that we have a community college of this calibre, is quite extraordinary.” She told me. “It provides a truly unique opportunity for students to continue their education here for a few years before making the decision to move on.”
“Many who would not otherwise be able to afford continued education, can and do.”
She cites the Dual Credit Media Arts classes at Taos High School which she hired Peter to teach four years ago as an example.
“I think Peter is the perfect person to chair this (DMA) Program right now.” She said.
“Career technical pathways are more important than ever and Peter’s approach is very hands on”
“The fact that they won that Balloon Festival Competition was incredible.” She recalls. “The Cannon Sponsorship was a direct result of that.”
With all that under my belt, I decided it was time to ask Peter himself, a few questions
1) Please tell me a little about Canon Sponsorship applications – six students have this opportunity – how did this come about?
The UNM Taos Media Arts Program got invited to participate in the Canon Filmmakers Challenge in the fall of 2016 at the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival which was sponsored by Canon. I took four of my best dual credit high school students to compete. There were ten or eleven media teams from around the state. Canon gave each team two cameras and a set of lenses with the goal of shooting a promo video in two days and then two days of editing. On the way to Albuquerque I told my students that all the teams would shoot beautiful footage of the festival over two days and then would present their short video looking good with a music soundtrack. If we wanted to win we had to tell a unique story. Our secret weapon was animation! We worked around the clock, first creating an original story of a teenage character (which we animated) who is an artist sketching scenes inside the festival. This character dreams of flying his own balloon. Sure enough after four days with little sleep we submitted a live action/animated minute long film and we won! The animator, Lorenzo Lopez, won best animation in the NM Film Foundation student film festival. Lorenzo is now in his second term of our DMA associates cohort and will graduate in the spring of 2019. His animation work continues to astound us all!
Here is the link
The four students all won their own Canon video creator kits! And this was the start of a multi-year partnership with Canon.
They have done two big workshops on our campus bringing the latest Canon gear for us to use and learn from Canon professionals. And now they are opening a major sponsorship of six students. Canon has also indicated a desire to help send these sponsored students to visit their Canon Burbank film studio in LA.
2) Another exciting event attached to DMA, is the Taos Land Trust Film Series. Can you tell my readers about this please?
We are collaborating with the Taos Land Trust to shoot four short videos to show the amazing conservation work they are doing. In turn they are supporting our program with funds which will help us grow. These are student produced videos that the Taos Land Trust will use for promoting their projects and also for seeking future grants and funds. The students working on this have the opportunity to get hired on as paid media interns over the summer.
3) The Program now has a new studio and green screen studio – how will this impact UNM-Taos DMA?
Our new studio and classroom space is a huge expansion. Our program is growing rapidly. We have 21 students in our Video production class and seven students in the cohort to graduate with their Associates degree spring of 2019. And with our new space we can accommodate more growth! We are aiming for 20-30 new freshman in our DMA associates cohort in the fall of 2018.
Our green screen studio is ready for music videos, short films, and all types of creative projects. We have gear, instructors, space, post-production software, students and lots of workshops planned. Perfect timing for all this as the demand for local media creators continues to grow!
4) Spring Semester is on and DMA’s Music Video Productions and Beyond Hollywood is a hot ticket? Why and how will this (course), benefit students in the long run?
Each semester we offer a sequence of two media courses which are taken by the cohort of students in our program. Typically one theory class and one practical, hands-on-course. It is so fun to see our new studio/classroom space packed with our video production students who will be shooting music videos this semester. And Beyond Hollywood is our screening class where Kelly Clement shows a wide range of films that show the history and genre of documentary filmmaking. Students complete a variety of homework assignments to deepen their understanding of how films are made.
5)Talking to all your colleagues, the one thing they are unanimous about, is your tremendous energy and your unique ability as a dual credit (in the High School) Instructor, to advance students through the stages of Academia, by becoming involved with DMA. Can you explain your process with these dual credit kids?
The dual credit program is amazing. It introduces High School Students to the excitement of college and creates a career pathway. For the students who choose to stay in Taos after graduating high school it leads perfectly into a wide variety of UNM Taos Associates programs. For students in the media classes they easily transition into the college cohort who can get their Digital Media Arts Associates degree in two years. This program is designed to transfer seamlessly to UNM Main campus for students who want to continue on and earn their Bachelor’s degree.
A Canon sponsorship of six of UNM-Taos DMA students has been in the works for a year and is coming to a big climax. The applications open up in two weeks so keep checking taoStyle for more info!
And for much more on this exciting program, please visit the site linked below this post.
All images thanks to Enrico Trujillo UNM-Taos DMS