Starting with a blank canvas |

Starting with a blank canvas

Two new CMC instructors to revolutionize art programs

Cynthia Zyzda is the first-full time art professor to be hired at any of the Colorado Mountain College campuses, and she hopes to change the canvas of the Alpine Campus’s curriculum.

“I feel like I’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg, and I am ready to dive in,” she said. “I want to get things moving and shaking for the students.”

Zyzda and the other new art instructor, Joel Allen, want to reshape the way students and the community look at art.

“Art can get pigeon-holed as being about beautiful things,” Allen said. “Art is a conversation about all things intellectual and emotional and connects to all things.”

“Art is a conversation that has been going on for thousands of years,” Zyzda added. “In our fast-paced multimedia world, where can students express themselves? Art can be a voice for them.”

She has already extended open studio time so the students can work without classroom pressure and can learn from their peers.

Allen offered a new class this semester called “Art in the Environment” to help students realize they can use unconventional items to create art.

“You have to be resourceful as an artist in today’s world,” Zyzda said. “We use recycled materials that would normally be overlooked.”

Allen’s class involves making artwork out of items found in nature, photographing them and then leaving them in the environment in which they were found.

“I even have people coming to class that aren’t in the class,” Allen said. “Art is really a confidence booster. Once they realize they can make things to say something, it gives them confidence.”

Work by Allen’s students, as well as other works by CMC students, can be viewed on Tuesday between 2 and 4 p.m. in Monson Hall.

Zyzda is committed to expanding the traditional and non-traditional art courses offered at CMC, and she wants to make them accessible to both traditional degree seeking students and community members. Zyzda plans to offer evening and weekend classes and workshops. She plans to invite visiting artists to teach courses.

“I want to create an open environment where anyone can feel comfortable taking art classes,” she said. “I’d also like to take students on trips to arts museums and performances and start on the state level, then nationally, then internationally.”

Having mixed classrooms of different ages and experience is beneficial for all involved.

What non-traditional aged students can offer to traditional students is huge, Zyzda said.

“They can see far ahead, instead of just the next day.”

There will be many positive changes in the art program at CMC during the next couple years.

“We encourage students to look around and challenge what they didn’t think they could do,” Zyzda said. “I’m a constant now, where there wasn’t one before. I also want to invite area artists to contact me if they are interested in teaching a course.”

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