Raymundo Baltazar | September 2016
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Major: World Arts & Cultures
Minor: Visual and Performing Arts Education
Q: A little background about you: Name, Hometown, degree major, year of graduation (or year of study if you are not a graduate yet) and the type of art that you focus on.
A: Raymundo Baltazar was born in Morelos, Mexico and raised in Los Angeles, California. He received his A.A. in fashion design from The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (F.I.D.M.). Currently, he is a senior candidate at UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures major, with a visual and performing arts education minor. And though he loves fashion design, visual and performing arts are his primary mediums.
Q: How did you discover your interest in art and how did you know that it was something that you wanted to pursue professionally, as an artist or as an art teacher?
A: It took me many years to realize how much I have been influenced by the arts. As an adult, I now realize that through my youthful gaze, I have always been captivated by the visual beauty of my surroundings. Perhaps due to my small-town upbringing, that type of sensitivity to color, composition and scale, fed my curiosity. So, when I immigrated to the U.S.A. as a tween, my worldview subsequently became overfed by so much visual stimulation. And as a young man, I started to link my curiosity with a potential professional outlet. Now, I can confidently identify myself as an artist and art teacher.
Q: Describe what the young artists in your VAPAE studio sessions are working on and the process they’re using.
A: VAPAE has allow me to serve as both, an art teacher and afterschool program coordinator: an awesome opportunity. However, as a teacher, the young artists of my program at the UCLA Community School are working within the visual arts, with a focus on community engagement. They are creating artwork that is influenced by culture, community and academia.
Q: Why is an enrichment opportunity like this important for those participating? What do they gain?
A: There are so many enriching opportunities benefiting the participants of our afterschool arts programs. In my case, the Multigenerational Afterschool Program (MASA), allows students and parents with the rare opportunity to create art together. MASA is an innovative arts program that helps both the students and parents to evolve together, as creative human beings and as a family.
Q: Did you have an opportunity like this when you were a younger artist? If yes, how did it help shape your love of art? If no, in what ways could a program like this have helped you?
A: Unfortunately, as a younger artist, I had to seek arts education, because it was rarely offered as part of the ongoing curriculum. However, after I learned of Hollywood High School and its Performing Arts Magnet school, I immediately did everything to ensure that I attended such school: I did and I loved it! I personally know how valuable it is to have artistic outlets and for many, such outlets also mean safety. Safety to evolve as an artist and as an openly gay young man.
Q: What has this experience as a teaching artist/ facilitator taught you about yourself? What do you personally gain as a teaching artist/ facilitator?
A: As a teaching artist, I have learned and gained so much. As a human being, I have found a way to share my love for the arts. I have finally found the path where I can utilize my experience -as a designer and community member, - to help mold the next generation of artists and members of our communities: That is a BIG responsibility!
Q: What are the benefits to you as a student/graduate in the UCLA VAPAE program? Was this program a good choice for you? If so, why?
A: I made the perfect choice! Personally, as an artist, I have been influenced by the young artists’ stories, which have infused my own work. Further, this amazing opportunity to teach, has allow me to grow as an adult. It is hard work, but I find myself smiling more often…and that’s worth everything!
Q: Are there any anecdotes from your VAPAE Studio Sessions that stand out to you? Perhaps you had a break‐through with a student or saw some particularly noticeable growth in that student through this program, collaboration etc. Maybe something surprised you or made you think about art or teaching in a new way.
A: Very hard to select one anecdote, so I will use some phrases that I heard throughout my time w/VAPAE. “Arts help me become a better person and a better brother;” “Art is like cooking, if you blend the right spices, you can end up with something delicious you can feed others with;” “art keeps me safe;” “This art project allowed me to travel to places I will never be able to go;” “I am happy when I make art.”
Q: What are your short-term and long‐term career goals?
A: At my age, career goals have become my human goals. In other words, I am living my long-term goals right now. It has been an amazing ride and I am so proud to be where I am: I feel infinite.