Art Student Receives SRPD Support

Pictured is Yen Chu, who this week is attending NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) using funds from WNMU Student Research and Professional Development.

© Western New Mexico University

“I really wanted to just get out there,” says WNMU transfer student Yen Chu, who was born in Taiwan and raised in America, where she graduated from Silver High School at age 16. “I applied to UNM. I didn’t know what I was going to do yet so I spent a couple of semesters taking classes left and right — until I took a ceramics class.”

Yen had a blast in the studio and decided to major in art, returning to her hometown to finish her degree. “WNMU costs less, the art department is great, and I can chill out and take all the classes I want,” she says.

With a multitude of interests, there’s no subject Yen hates. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always really loved science, and I actually love math too. Art lets me explore all of that because you have to worry about chemistry in ceramics too. It’s like acrobatics in my mind,” she says.

At WNMU, she’s experimenting with styles and honing her technique. “It takes a while to let your hands catch up with what you see in your head,” she says. “Right now, what is most important about what I make is history. Ceramics has been around for a really, really long time. I get to look at a lot of different lifetimes and traditions I haven’t even heard of, researching pieces from France and Korea, for example. I’ve gotten to imitate them or embody them in modern ways.”

Yen wants people to handle what she makes. “I like to feel like I’m connected to the people who see and use my work,” she says.

To learn more about ceramics and programs available once she graduates, Yen signed up to attend NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts), a conference in Virginia that was cancelled due to the threat of the coronavirus. WNMU ceramics professor Courtney Michaud was to accompany her, and both would have had their travel covered by WNMU Student Research and Professional Development funds Yen was awarded.

Last year, Yen applied for and won a private scholarship to attend a China painting workshop hosted at WNMU during CLAY Festival, and this summer during CLAY, she hopes to learn from a professor at a university she’s considering for a post-baccalaureate program.

At WNMU, Yen plans to minor in biology and perhaps English, too. She is a student worker for the WNMU web developer, and she also holds down a gig at the southwestern branch of the New Mexico Technology Assistance Program housed at WNMU (Phelps Dodge, Room 150). “We have wheelchairs, weighted utensils and reading pens for people with disabilities. I’m going to another conference for them in May,” she says. “I’m a huge nerd.”

In her free time, Yen walks, exploring neighborhoods and the Gila. “Over time, I’ve felt like this is a really beautiful place,” says Yen, who was born in Taiwan and raised in Silver City. “The population is low. The atmosphere is refreshing. The air is clean.”

This is a WNMU Mustang Scholar profile. If you are interested in pursuing research at WNMU, contact Joe Doyle at 575-538-6658 or

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