Kayleigh Maes’ passion for her major in media arts is the end product of an affinity for film and photography rooted in her childhood. Maes’ strong foundation in her degree path is built upon her family’s equally artistic background and, according to Maes, this foundation has reassured her whenever she questions her career plan.

"My whole family has been in the film industry since I was little. My dad started out as a graphic designer and then became an art director in film here. So, I grew up going onto set and taking photographs of what I saw," Maes said, adding that her parents have wholeheartedly supported her selecting a media arts route over a film and photography career.

In addition to her sturdy personal foundation, Maes maintains an equally secure professional impact in Albuquerque. She plans to continue developing her existing photography business after graduation and continue working at the magazine Perfect Wedding Guide New Mexico.

Maes credits the University of New Mexico's Arts Leadership and Business program with mentoring and implementing artistic interests in the realm of marketing.

Maes advocates for delving into diverse interests; as she puts it, "I can’t just stick to one thing I’m passionate about, because I have to keep busy all the time."

Besides being reflected in her multiple professions, this mantra is rendered evident by Maes’s various hobbies: film acting, traveling and artistic projects such as collaging or making music on the side.

Aside from solidifying her long-held career interest, Maes’ experience at the University has instilled within her the significance of communal effort, she said.

"In the art community, it’s a team effort. Collaboration is key. Some of my best memories involve the team working aspect of my media arts production classes and photography courses. Coming up with completely ridiculous ideas and watching them unfold into substantive films we make is so fun," Maes said.

Indeed, she said this sense of teamwork has bred several unique friendships.

"I have a lot of creative friends who keep me grounded and on track. They are not only supportive but inspirational as well," she said.

One such friend is Evan Pierce — also a senior majoring in media arts — who first met Maes during a shared photography class two years ago. After frequently finding themselves in similar classes, Maes and Pierce began collaborating on projects together, and the rest is history.

Pierce described the unique nature of his friendship with Maes as one that thrives without necessitating constant interaction.

"We are so close, but we don’t always need to hang out and that’s not weird at all for either of us. Which is great because we’re both so busy," he said.

His favorite memories of knowing Maes have primarily involved the art that has arisen from their friendship.

"She’s amazing on the creative side. Oftentimes, I’m shooting the project and she’s the mastermind," he said fondly. 

Since Maes is staying in Albuquerque for the time being and Pierce will be graduating in May of 2020, he is optimistic that he will continue to closely interact with and support Maes’ future endeavors.

After hearing about Maes’ passion for traveling, the Daily Lobo conducted a Five and Why on her five top travel destinations.

  1. Spain: "We have a lot of Spanish history in my family, so I feel like I have a really strong connection to Spain."
  2. Iceland: "All my friends have talked about going to Iceland for both the photographic and cultural experience."
  3. Ireland: "I have always wanted to visit out of principle."
  4. Anywhere on the East Coast: "My best friend went to college in Boston, and she’s been traveling between New York and Massachusetts since then, so I really want to visit her there."
  5. Thailand: "I don’t know if this is a fair reason, but I really love Thai food, so I would love to sample some authentic cuisine."

Maes reminisced frequently on the winding journey from her freshman year of University to the present day. She said if she had the opportunity to relay a message to her freshman year self, she would advise, "People are there to help you. Also, stop taking everything so seriously."

Beatrice Nisoli is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @BeatriceNisoli