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Visual and Performing Arts

Prof. David Lobdell, Department Chair 
Burris Hall Room 109 D
Phone: 505-454-3570
Phone: 505-454-3126

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts includes instructional programs in art, music, and theater.  In addition to the postbaccalaureate certificate in fine arts, the department provides instruction at the graduate level, which may be used for licensure or to satisfy emphasis area requirement in the master’s degree in education, curriculum and instruction concentration. 

Mission of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts
The general mission of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) is to education students in the technical skills, the theoretical underpinnings and the sociocultural context for the disciplines represented by the academic programs.  VPA seeks to inspire students to make creative and expressive ideas the foundation of their lives and their work, which is the essence of the cultivation of the human mind and spirit.

In its collaborative enterprises, VPA seeks to provide opportunities for students to work closely with faculty and staff in its academic courses, thus demonstrating that faculty and staff readily interact with students. Community members join the department for many productions and activities. VPA aims to incorporate appropriate elements from Northern New Mexico artistic, theatrical and musical culture in its courses and productions, which relate to the rich heritage of Hispanic and Native American cultures that are distinctive of the state of New Mexico. Ultimately, VPA aims to prepare its students for an active professional life in each discipline through the knowledge, creativity, teaching skills and dedication of its faculty and staff, showing excellence in teaching, discovering, preserving and applying knowledge.

Todd Christensen (Art)
Andre Garcia-Nuthmann (Music)
Edward Harrington (Music)
David Lobdell (Art)

Music and Art While there are no graduate degrees offered in music and art, they may be selected as emphasis areas within the curriculum and instruction master of arts program in education for students wishing to pursue graduate studies in music and art education. In addition, certain music and art courses are applicable as electives in the Department of Behavioral Sciences’ master of arts program in Southwest studies.

Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Fine Arts (30 credit hours)
This curriculum provides the rigorous studio practice and conceptual/art historical framework necessary to develop a portfolio for application to graduate programs in fine arts or to prepare the candidate for a self-directed career in fine art. It is a critique-driven program that requires the student enroll in portfolio development, and exhibition courses, as well as directed study courses. 

The program is designed for students with degrees in fields other than art, who have decided to pursue art as a career choice, and will allow them to develop art related portfolios. The Program will help students of New Mexico, the region and the nation advance to master of fine arts programs and develop a clear direction in their work to be competitive as a self-directed, independent fine artist. 

Admissions into the post baccalaureate program is contingent upon undergraduate transcripts, CV, and a portfolio of 20 images which demonstrates competency in studio art. Additionally, the applicant must submit a letter of purpose and two letters of recommendation from sources outside of Highlands University. Admission into graduate school is also required. 

Students who do not have 15 credit hours of art history classes
 may be admitted to the program on a provisional basis. These course requirements must be met in order to advance in the program. 

Required Courses (18 credits):

ART 591 Portfolio Development and Professional Practices (2)  

ART 590 Independent Study (6)   

AH 550 Seminar in Art History* (6) 

*Repeated with different content 

AH 580 Art of the Americas (3)  

ART 595 Exhibit Design (1)  

Art Electives (12 credits): 

ART 571 Painting 5 (3)   

ART 572 Painting 6 (3)  

ART 531 Ceramics 5 (3)  

ART 534 Practicum (1-4) 

ART 535 Selected Topics (1-4) 

ART 541 Sculpture 5 (3)  

ART 542 Sculpture 6 (3)   

ART 550 Seminar in Art (1-4) 

ART 561 Jewelry and Metalsmithing (3) 

ART 571 Printmaking 5 (3 

ART 572 Printmaking 6 (3 

ART 585 Art Foundry 5 (3 

ART 590 Independent Study (1-4

Program Total: 30 credit hours minimum


The music program at NMHU offers a variety of options to meet the needs of students with personal or preprofessional interests in music. A wide range of choral and instrumental ensembles provides students with opportunities to participate in active music making. These include the Concert Choir, Madrigal Choir (El Coro de la Tierra Alta), Jazz Choir, Wind Ensemble, Guitar Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, and Mariachi (Vaqueros de la Sierra). Other choral and instrumental ensembles are offered as students’ interest dictates. Scholarship opportunities include activity awards, Lorraine Schula Scholarship, Thomas Mishler Scholarship, Muller Family Scholarship, and the Lorenzo Miguel Gallegos Scholarship.


Students in the music program will become proficient in the necessary skills of music performance according to their particular choice of instrument or voice, while acquiring a thorough knowledge in the philosophy, aesthetics, literature and history of music from Western and Southwest cultures. They will be enabled to enter the teaching profession with the requisite training and knowledge to teach music at the elementary and secondary levels. 

Students wishing to pursue music studies in more depth may select music as a major in music performance or music education. The music performance concentration allows serious performers the opportunity to develop appropriate technical skills in preparation for professional careers as musicians. The music education concentration prepares music graduates for full licensure as K-12 music teachers in the public schools of New Mexico, and
 throughout the region. 

Two minors
 are offered as options to further develop musical skills: music and music technology. The general music minor is designed for students who have a vocational interest in music as a supplement to their principal studies at NMHU. The music technology minor provides songwriting, digital audio editing, and performance experience to students who major in a non-music discipline such as media arts, literature, or business. 

Fine Art
The art faculty at New Mexico Highlands University provides students with a strong foundation in the visual arts. The program offers a range of traditional media and upper-division course work that qualifies the student to enter a graduate program or embark on a professional career. Training in art history as well as in hands-on studio provides the knowledge of skills, techniques and critical thinking required of a committed artist. By nurturing ideas and creativity a student is able to become visually literate, technically competent, historically informed and conceptually relevant. 

Contemporary artists often combine digital media with traditional works. The art program supports the interrelationship of media arts with its traditional disciplines as students learn to merge these fields.
The program also recognizes the need for training in electronic media for the publication and documentation of traditional
 art work. Course work in basic imaging skills is required with other upper division courses may be selected from a list of elective courses. 

NMHU’s art discipline reserves the right to retain students’ work submitted for course credit for a limited time for the purposes of education, exhibition, and promotion. Lab fees are required for all studio courses. Expenses vary from course to course and some supplies
 will be provided from student fees.

Resources and Facilities

New Mexico Highlands University provides music studios for audio recording, songwriting, group rehearsal, and individual practice; art studios for ceramics, painting, drawing, jewelry and metalsmithing, printmaking, sculpture, and a fully equipped art foundry.


Students in visual and performing arts are joined by other students on campus and by community members in the Concert Choir, Madrigal Choir, Wind Ensemble, HU Jazz Singers, Guitar Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, and Mariachi, as well as in four main-stage productions. The gallery in the Burris Hall (the arts building) serves as the focal point for artistic work produced through various classes and studios.
The Art Club, and Music Club, are an active part of campus life,
 and also serve to promote their various programs.

Art (ART), Courses in

ART 521. Painting 5 (3); 2, 4  Fa, Sp
This intermediate to advanced level course emphasizes personal imagery and the exploration of the language of paint. Prerequisite: ART 321 or permission of instructor.

ART 522. Painting 6 (3); 2, 4  Fa, Sp
Continuation of ART 521 with emphasis placed on an individual topic decided upon by both student and instructor resulting in a series of paintings and a research paper. May be repeated for additional credit. Prerequisite: ART 521 or permission of instructor.

ART 531. Ceramics 5 (3); 2, 4   Fa, Sp 
Form building including kiln firing and glaze calculation. Course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: ART 331 or permission of instructor.

ART 534. Practicum (1-4 VC); Fa, Sp, Su
Experience in an on-campus or work placement. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

ART 535. Selected Topics in Art (1 – 4 VC); Var
Course in a topic or topics of art studio. May be repeated with a change of content. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

ART 541. Sculpture 5 (3); 2, 4  Fa, Sp
A continuation of ART 341, and an introduction to bronze casting. Prerequisite: ART 341 or permission of instructor.

ART 542. Sculpture 6 (3); 2, 4  Fa, Sp
Development of a personal aesthetic in sculpture. Course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: ART 441 or permission of instructor.

ART 550. Seminar in Art (1–4 VC); Var 
Seminar course in a topic or topics of art. Course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

ART 561. Jewelry and Metalsmithing 5 (3); 2, 4 Fa, Sp  
A continuation of ART 361. Prerequisite: ART 361 or permission of instructor.

ART 562. Jewelry and Metalsmithing 6 (3); 2, 4 Fa, Sp    
A continuation of ART 561. Prerequisite: ART 361 or permission of instructor.

ART 571. Printmaking 5 (3); 2, 4 Fa, Sp, Su  
A continuation of ART 371 with emphasis placed on innovative technologies in intaglio, the art of the monotype, and advanced practices in lithography including color. Attention will be placed highly on individual imagery and outside research. Prerequisite: ART 371 or permission of instructor.

ART 572. Printmaking 6 (3); 2, 4 Fa, Sp, Su   
Continuation of ART 571 with emphasis placed on an individual topic decided upon by both student and instructor resulting in a suite or series of images in print, and a research paper. May be repeated for additional credit. Prerequisite: ART 571 or permission of instructor.

ART 585. Art Foundry 5 (3); 2, 4  Su
An emphasis on refining aesthetic knowledge and technical skills. Course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: ART 385 or permission of instructor.

ART 586. Art Foundry 6 (3); 2, 4  Su
Continuation of ART 585. Course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: ART 385 or permission of instructor.

ART 590. Independent Study: Art Studio (1–4 VC); Fa, Sp
Individual research in a selected area of art history or criticism arranged with an instructor. Prerequisite: The appropriate 300-level course and permission of instructor.

ART 593. Directed Study in Art Studio (1–4 VC); Fa, Sp
Advanced independent work arranged with a faculty member to expand upon knowledge and techniques gained in lower division studio courses in the student’s field of emphasis. Prerequisite: The appropriate 300- or 400-level course and permission of instructor.

ART 596. Exhibit Design (3); Sp
Students will participate in mounting a multimedia exhibit on a topic in Fine Arts.

Art History (AH), Courses in  

AH 540. Modern Art (3); Sp
A survey of European and American art from the late eighteenth century until the present. Major artists and trends in painting, sculpture, photography and architecture will be discussed with particular emphasis on personality and innovation. Prerequisite: ART 411 or permission of instructor.

AH 550. Seminar in Art History (1 – 4 VC); Sp
Seminar course in a topic or topics of art history. May be repeated with a change of content. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

AH 580. Art History: The Americas (3); Fa
A survey of the arts of the Americas, covering the pre-Columbian indigenous cultures, Hispanic colonial presence, and contemporary Native American and Hispanic arts.

This degree is under the College of Arts and Sciences