At Western New Mexico University, which is the state’s only Applied Liberal Arts and Sciences university, students learn to ask fundamental questions like: Where did we come from? What is our purpose? How should I live? Now, in a collaboration between a beginners’ drawing class and the WNMU Museum, they are learning to ask another question: What is art?
In keeping with the Applied Liberal Arts and Sciences philosophy, students are exploring the answer through connecting with artifacts that may be religious, scientific — and depending on the perspective — creative. After getting an overview of the WNMU Museum collections, they each chose a piece or grouping of pieces to draw, setting up their easels on site and bedding down in the museum, their studio for a few weeks.
“This interdisciplinary project has students engaging with another discipline while developing their drawing skills, a combo designed to encourage critical thought and provoke amazement,” instructor Jennifer Douglass says.
Since students’ work is on display as it’s being completed, museum goers can also explore the question “what is art?” while viewing artifacts and art side by side.