Being a DMA Student….

                  What is it like to be a DMA student at the VC? It’s amazing! I am a 24 year old single female who works full time over night at Wal-Mart while I am going to school. I recently graduated with my Associate’s Degree from UNM-VC in DMA and now I am continuing my education at the VC in the same field. The experience I got from the VC was amazing. I loved it. I had so much fun. The teachers here are amazing. My favorite and the one who made the most difference to me was Miss Alexa Wheeler.  She helped me out so much. I told her what was going on in my life and, if I was struggling, she made it to where I didn’t have to worry and do my best. She is so knowledgeable and really shows you how to grasp something. I am a visual learner and she was cool enough to do a face-to-face with me so that I could learn. Plus, she is always there to help out, even if it’s before or after class. I loved her classes. It also was great to have a teacher who is a bigger nerd then you are lol. I love Alexa and I am going to be very sad to have to leave to main campus. But I highly recommend her to all my fellow class mates if they need a class that is fun and challenging with an instructor who knows and understands each and every students needs. Not only is Alexa very knowledgeable about her courses, she also offers the tools necessary to accomplish such tasks. From Wacom tablets to a very large box with lasers (Organic Motion Capture Stage) to help you create a 3D model of a figure to create a game character.  Thanks to her, she has inspired me to actually get a tablet and a really cool software for my computer so that I can write and illustrate my comics. She has also helped me with web design, business concepts and so much more!

                  Another instructor who is way cool is Jon Sims. He is the video instructor and a lot of fun. He is as cool and easy going as Alexa. He is very knowledgeable and shows you the fun side of movies. While I took his class, I gained knowledge about video production, editing and all the fun little bits far and in between. I loved it.  I really suggest taking classes with both instructors!

                  Well what about the rest, right? Registration here is really easy except for getting in to the really cool classes; those are first come first serve, so hurry!  Tuition is expensive but way better here then at main campus and the book store carries all the books you need from new to used which are a lot cheaper!  So hurry and get registered and get your career, your future, your life started at the UNM-VC in the DMA program!

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The Evolution of The DMA

By Marcus Zuniga

The Valencia Campus Branch of the University of New Mexico has developed one of the most popular and innovative degrees programs that are available to students. The Digital Media Arts program was established in 2006 at the Valencia Campus. It was established as a reaction from Michael Ceschiat as he saw a need for students to have access to Digital Media Art tools like Adobe software. When the program first began, there was only one Mac desktop in the office of Fine Arts Instructor, Regina Corritore. By the next year (2007) the program grew with a total of eight Macs and a classroom in room V107, next door to V105, which is now known as the “video lab.”

The Digital Media Arts program has been the recipient of many helpful grants that have allowed the program to create great learning opportunities for students. The program originally began with a major focus on students interested in film and video, and as time has moved on the program has developed four other concentrations including photo, graphics and web design, animation, and game art. As the program was beginning to become the program we know today, Alexa Wheeler came into the picture.

Alexa Wheeler became a major asset to the Digital Media Arts program as one of its main professors. She has helped develop the program so that students can earn an Associate’s Degree at the Valencia Campus and still go on into a bachelor’s degree program at UNM – Main Campus. So a student could take courses that would feed both degree programs and receive both degrees and all sorts of useful knowledge and skill in a practical amount of time. Most students who take Digital Media Arts courses or are in line to receive a Digital Media Arts degree go on into the Bachelor of Fine Arts programs or the Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media program at UNM Main. Some of the goals that were in mind whilst developing the program were to make the curriculum align with UNM programs and to offer students these digital media arts tool for whatever reason they sought after.

In 2011, the program has expanded to the use of two main classrooms and an entire open computer lab for students to work outside of classroom hours. The students use special programs like Final Cut Pro, Maya, or Adobe software. In spring 2010, the program created a student film festival that showcases students’ film and video work to an audience in large number. The Digital Media Arts program has had majors increase by 35%! In the future, the program hopes to add a sixth concentration to its list. A new grant had been awarded to the program so that it can create Mobile Gaming App courses. With these new courses a new instructor may be brought in who specializes and understand the program that will be used for this concentration. This is an exciting addition to the program that should allow for interest and attention.

What’s amazing to know is that Digital Media Arts only really began to grow in acceptance within the last two decades. And here were are in 2011 with artists all over the world, and even here at the Valencia Campus, creating works that are as innovative as the tools and minds that created them.

When Alexa Wheeler is asked what she like best about this program that she helped build she replies, “the students.” She describes them as inspirational. So although the Digital Media Arts Program is growing with size and popularity with each term, it still remains a close community of professors, students, advisors, and, most of all, artists who care about each other and each others’ works.

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Maria Liot, Artist and Poet

Through her photographs, her poetry, and her Spoken Word performance, artist/poet Maria Liot asks us all to See – to look, to pay attention to the world around us. Her artwork in the UNM-Valencia Student Art Gallery shows how a person can experience serendipity by paying attention to the little things. Maria describes the style of her work as ‟raw,” and agrees with the characterization of it as ‟impromptu.”

For example, Maria’s photo Shelter consists of a dumpster with the word SHELTER spray-painted along one side. Another photo, titled Couch Baked Potato, captures an outdoor scene with an abandoned microwave oven plopped in the seat of a discarded recliner chair. These are not staged images – they are scenes that Maria happened across as-is.

Some of Maria’s photographs are accompanied by her poems; this one, for example, expresses Maria’s general approach to her work:

I’m in love with the way the light plays with the trees
Tickling the edges of all the leaves
Playing peek-a-boo with the ground below
Slow dancing with our perception

And I’m in love with the moment that our eyes meet
I linger as long as possible
In this moment I long to remain
And later on, when I need to smile,
It is this moment I will refrain.

Getting more specific, Maria comments on one photograph: ‟I like the composition as I saw it off the side of the road; I like the shapes, the colors, the random slopes, the simplicity, how raw it is.”

Maria discovered her creative talents at a young age. She has been writing poetry and taking photographs since she was a pre-teen. As a young child she used a Fuji Film disposable camera to take her pictures. (She has graduated to using a Canon Rebel SLR now.) As for poetry, she was reading Bob Dylan’s poetry as young as 12, then stayed up, sleepless, writing her own poems until she fell asleep about 2 a.m. 

Born and raised in Albuquerque, then attending high school in Los Lunas, Maria decided after high school that she would go to UNM. Surprisingly, this talented and prolific artist did not take art classes in high school. Maria’s first art class was Alexa Wheeler’s Photography course, which she took because she thought ‟I’ll like that class.” Like it she did, and Wheeler told her ‟You NEED to do this!” Maria also really enjoyed the art classes she took with Regina Corritore and Val Garoza. The rest is history, and Maria is now studying Film and Digital Media (IFDM) at UNM-VC. 

Alexa Wheeler has played a very positive role in Maria’s university education, constantly encouraging Maria, being both an influential person and a friend. In fact, Maria considers Wheeler, Corritore, and local poet (and personal friend) Bob Warren to be her mentors, the most influential people in her artistic and poetic development, and says she ‟would not be anything without them.”

When asked what motivates her and inspires her to keep going, Maria gestures toward a small group of friends who have come to the gallery for a personal presentation of her Spoken Word performance, and replies simply, 

These guys. The energy you get from being around people you love. Friendship starts small, blossoms in a relationship like a tree – seeds fall and things grow. I can’t motivate myself.”

Maria Liot has a few hobbies: photography, dancing, drawing, and writing poetry. She is not currently engaged in the Slam Poetry movement, but would like to follow up with that in the future. Not all poetry is appropriate for the slam poetry style, however. Some poems, says Maria, are ‟better when read silently to yourself.”

So what is this artist’s approach to design? After a moment’s thought, Maria responds: ‟I start.”

And what words of advice does this artist have for aspiring artists?

‟Do what you feel,” says Maria. ‟Just because there are guidelines for an assignment or art medium, remember they’re just guidelines. If you’re an artist, do what you feel. But – still be open to all of the influences around you.”

Asked to describe herself in five words, Maria pauses to think, and then replies emphatically, ‟I am Maria Liot, one of your fellow humans.”

And this is what Maria Liot, artist, poet, and one of our fellow humans, has to say about our relationship to the phenomenon we call Time:

Sit and wonder if anyone
Really knows how much
Time is in a minute
I’m wondering if you
Know how much time it
Takes–How much
Time is in a minute
Is enough to fill a life.
A lifetime of dreams
Can be equal to one minute.
A moment. A minute.
I wish I could have
All the time that’s in
A minute
I wish I could have you
For all the time that
Is in it. Have you–all of
You–for all the time that
Is in it–if only for a minute
If only for a minute.


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Digital Media Arts @ UNM-VC and the Electronic Arts Program @ UNM-Main

By Jhonathan Aragon aka actafool27

The University of New Mexico offers several degrees in the Digital Media Arts program. Here at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus we have several different avenues in the Digital Media Arts program. They offer both a Certificate and an Associate’s Degree in Digital Media Arts. Depending on which avenue you choose, the requirements are different. The Associate’s Degree is more complex and in-depth versus the Certificate Program. Also, once you transfer to the Albuquerque Main Campus there are many different ways that you can utilize your Associate’s Degree or Certificate in the Digital Media Arts field of study.

At UNM-Main there is a program called the Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media Program (IFDM) program. It is a broad program that focuses on Digital Media Arts however the program is vague enough to allow students to attend one of the following colleges with a specific concentration in one of the following:

  • The College of Fine Arts– with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) with concentrations in either Production or Critical Studies
  • Anderson School of Management– with a Bachelor of Business Administration
  • The College of Arts & Sciences– with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Journalism
  • The School of Engineering– Area of focus in IFDM for Computer Engineering students, and an IFDM Fine Arts minor for Computer Science students

Someone with a degree or certificate from the UNM-VC in Digital Media Arts (DMA) would be prepared for anyone of these Bachelor’s Degrees. Before applying to the college of your choice, you must first complete the core studies that your associate’s or certificate would have prepared you for. However the Associate’s does require more classes, making you more prepared and a more likely candidate to be accepted to the undergraduate college of your choice. Then you will also have had to complete several digital media arts classes in which you will be creating projects in your field of study/concentration. In order for you to receive full credit for these classes, you also had to receive a C or better in those classes. You must have earned a minimum of 34 credit hours in the core curriculum as well as Arts and Sciences courses which you should have earned at the UNM-VC upon completion of your degree.

The exciting thing about receiving a certificate or degree in Digital Media Arts at the UNM-VC is it is only the beginning. From that point you will have started your concentration and you can build upon it in the undergraduate program in the college of your choice. Some of the different concentrations include digital photography, digital graphics and web design, digital animation, digital video and film, digital game art and digital production. There are so many other possible directions you can go with a digital media arts degree. It fits into so many majors and careers, including being an artist, writer, gamer, entrepreneur, scientist, video maker, animator, storyteller, designer, computer scientist or educator. When you get to the IDFM program, there are two specific concentrations that you may also choose including critical studies or production. Production focuses on the knowledge and practice of digital arts including video, gaming, art, etc. Critical studies is a cross-cultural study that focuses on the science and history behind digital media. This degree is open to your imagination whatever you can dream; you can do but always talk to an advisor first, just to make sure you are meeting the requirements.

A DMA certificate or associate’s degree from the VC also feeds into various degrees through the College of Fine Arts at UNM Main Campus.

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Welcome to the new Dean, Dr. Richard Sax

Interview by Lorri M. Gast for the DMA Blog site with

Dr. Richard Sax, Dean of Instruction, UNM– Valencia Branch

Photograph courtesy of UNM-Valencia, The Learning Center

As we were still sleeping in late during the lazy days of August, the Academic office was busy preparing to welcome our new Dean of Instruction’s arrival. Transplanted from Ohio, Dean Sax stands 6 feet, 5 inches tall and doesn’t seem to blend in as well as he seems to be at home here.  When he isn’t inundated with paperwork and faculty meetings, he is busy traveling to different campuses.  When I emailed Dean Sax to ask if I could interview him for our new Digital Media Arts blog site, he was more than happy to make time for me to conduct a personal interview and share his thoughts. I feel I am at an advantage because I not only am a student here, but I am part of the Academic Department team.

From this point on, I refer to myself, Lorri, as “L” and Dr. Sax as “DS“.

  • L: Please give us a brief bio, where you are from and how you started in this field?
  • DS: I was born in Houston, then we moved to Nevada, then to San Francisco and from 1963 to 1974 I lived in Cleveland.  I received my Bachelor’s Degree when I was 21 and earned my Masters at 22.

Dean Sax began his education considering a career in Law, and while teaching at a prep school, realized he loved literature and received his Doctoral degree at the University of Michigan. From 1984 – 2004, Dean Sax taught at Madonna University, serving as Dean of Arts & Humanities, 1995 – 2004.

  • L: What is your connection to UNM Valencia?  How is it you came to be part of this community?
  • DSI enjoyed interviewing with Valencia Campus. I was excited to return to the Southwest because I enjoyed living in Durango where my family lived from 2004 -2007.  We returned to the Ohio area only because my mother had pancreatic cancer and I felt I needed to be with her and care for her.
  • L: When did you first discover your instructional talents?  And how did your training/education influence you?
  • DSReading literature and being sensitized to how literature affects you.
  • L: Could you tell us about your work?
  • DSHiring and firing faculty and staff.  Faculty professional development, mediating student-faculty conflict, accreditation, assessment, curriculum, connecting the campus to the community – Like a “Picassoid” head.

Pablo Picasso
Self-Portrait 1972
History of Art


  • L: What inspires you to keep going and how do you keep yourself motivated?
  • DSMy children, ages 5 – 24.  They give me a sense of purpose and identity.  If they were watching, I want to make them proud.
  • L: How do you describe your style as a teacher?
  • DS:  Engaging, compassionate, supportive, intellectually rigorous.
  • L: What is your approach to teaching?
  • DSEducational Outcomes.  What they get out of the class, what they get out of me.  How I want them to behave, by being a good role model through life lessons and behavior. I recently heard from a past student and was told I had such an impact on his life.
  • L: Who are your mentors?
  • DSErnie Nolan – he was my boss at Madonna University.  I didn’t have a father figure and he was a real mentor for me.
  • L: What are you most inspired by?
  • DS:  My younger children, music and fine art.
  • L: What are your hobbies?
  • DSBasketball and skiing.  But I don’t do much of either any more after many knee surgeries.  I have always volunteered with children’s sports.
  • L: Share with us something funny that has happened to you recently.
  • DSThis isn’t recent but is the first thing I thought of; my first wife went to Catholic school from K -12th grade and is from an Irish & Italian family. So, of course, her father’s name was Joseph and her mother’s name was Mary.  She was in 2nd grade and the nun asked her what her parents’ names are and she would answer, Joseph & Mary.  The nun hit her for lying! This was in the early 1960’s.
  • L: Describe yourself in 5 words.
  • DSCompassionate. Dedicated. Whimsical. Devoted. Trustworthy.
  • L: Lastly, any words of advice for aspiring artists?  Teachers?  Educators?  Students?  Colleagues?  Etc.
  • DS: “Follow Your Bliss”

 Thank you Dean Sax for allowing me to post this interview on our new DMA blog site and giving awareness of who you are, how you got to where you are today, and what you do for our campus.

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Organic Motion Capture

By Ronnie Gutierrez aka broken2death

I spent a good part of this semester getting to know all that I could possibly teach myself about Organic Motion Capture. The Digital Media Arts Department at the University of New Mexico Valencia Campus hides many treasures. The Motion capture stage is a powerful animation tool that allows a human body to control a created character. The engine that runs the entire set up is a program called Motion Builder. The Motion Stage is an actual stage, enclosed with a specially manufactured reflective material that consists of 4 panels 17 ft long by 4 ft wide, and 13 wall panels 8ft long by 4ft wide. After removing your shoes you are ready to step on to the Motion Stage. There is no need to strap on any body suits or harnesses to get started you need only remove your shoes to get started. Once the actor has taken center stage, 14 Organic Motion Stage View Fire Cameras record the actors every movement, while the imported character mimics movement in real time. Simply put, the cartoon character walks when you walk and basically can copy bone and joint movements that are programmable down to the finger bone. Motion Builder has default characters that you can choose from like a warrior princess to a gremlin. The real power comes from being able to import created characters from animation programs like Maya or 3DS Max, but also scenery and backgrounds as well. I wish I could say that it was all just as simple as jumping in the stage while a partner pushes play, but it almost is. After extensive calibrations and touchy misalignments, you can begin to record and animate a character through your own body movements. The windows provide views and control over every angle and aspect of the actor being recorded on stage. Every variable can be controlled and edited at the touch of a finger, as long as you know what all the menus and buttons do. The tracking applications can be ran at 60, 90, or 120 frames per second. Multiple camera angles, perspectives and filters such as 3d and outline views, offer an intense control of the stage environment. This technology is behind the lifelike character movements of in video games, especially sports games where actors mimic exact movements, and sometimes the actual players have their motions recorded, providing a high level of accuracy to the visual content of the game. As high tech as all of this is, I was surprised how a simple mask from a paint program has to be used as a filler to block out negative space on the monitor view. I could get more into detail about things that I have read, but have yet to fully understand, but instead I chose to give my actual point of view given my limited knowledge and experience at this time.

Most of the time that I have had to spend learning how to operate Motion Builder, I was alone. The only problem is that running the program and capturing motion is a two person job, so I spent a lot of time doing trial and error. I really would have loved to reassemble the Motion Capture Stage at my house for at least a week to really push this awesome tool to the limits of my imagination and hone my skills at the same time. Without being able to do that, I don’t think that I ever got to fully experience organic motions highest potential. I plan on mastering organic motion and posting on my victories and failures as I work to gain more knowledge. I think choreographed dances and rehearsed fighting are a couple of projects that I would love to arrange for the Motion Capture Stage if only I had the ways and means to create such a production. I plan on updating this post after I spend the day with UNM-VC’s very own Digital Renaissance Woman Alexa Wheeler (another hidden treasure), collaborating her for her knowledge on Organic Motion Capture this coming week sometime. The more I learn the more I know I have much more to learn, but still the more intrigued and curious I become.

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Helping Hand – Susan Jackson

by CJ Freeman

Assistance is available…

I was asked to write a biography on Susan Jackson. She is a very helpful individual at the Valencia campus. Her job title is administrative assistant 3 and part-time adjunct faculty in Information Technology. Susan is also a student at UNM working on her third degree, this time a Bachelor’s Degree! She noticed her talents while she was quite young – around 6 she stated. She began to notice that she liked to help others succeed at their task-at-hand, so she continues and loves to help others. Susan manages the department from 7-4, does inventory, balances the budget for her department, and manages grants. She assists faculty and students, as well as supervises work-study staff.

She enjoys lifelong learning and will continue to attend college for a bit more time as she finishes up her Bachelor’s Degree. Susan stated that the knowledge she has acquired is inspiring her to carry on in her career goals. She has been a staff member the VC for 10 years.

When not doing homework she enjoys cooking and relaxing with family, which isn’t often enough. She is the proud mother of two, and grandmother to four. Susan has had several mentors over the last few years, and stated that now her staff and students inspire her! She and her colleagues make a very good team.

In response to the question – what was the funniest thing that has happened to you recently, she says “ I rushed home to put the trash out on the wrong day.” Then she was asked to describe herself in five words, “patient, trustworthy, passionate, determined and dedicated.”

The last words of inspiration to all: “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” One of her classes is online through main campus and when students cannot reach the teacher, Susan tells them to “Be patient.” A lesson we all sometimes just need to hear.

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