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Sara Atencio-Gonzales, executive director of ASUNM's Arts and Crafts Studio, poses outside of UNM's Student Union Building. 

ASUNM Arts Studio executive director crafts a new path forward

The Associated Students at the University of New Mexico recently announced their 2022-23 agency directors, including returning ASUNM Arts and Crafts Studio executive director Sara Atencio-Gonzales. She was rehired largely due to her history of dedication and hard work.

Atencio-Gonzales first learned about the studio in Fall 2020, when she joined ASUNM’s Emerging Lobo Leaders program. She became interim director in Spring 2022 and applied for the position for this year after she fell in love with the work. In the position, she balances both outward and inward facing jobs, taking care of studio member and employee needs as well as budgeting, working with other ASUNM offices and event planning.

The studio itself is open to both members and non-members and offers materials and tools for jewelry making and pottery, among other arts and crafts disciplines, as well as workshops in various types of crafts.

“It’s a good space to go to where they have a lot of resources available for making art and trying out other disciplines … It’s also just a good space to be in, and Sara’s done such a good job of keeping it running like a well-oiled machine and making sure everything’s taken care of,” UNM student Danielle Genero said.

A sculptor herself, one of the most rewarding parts of Atencio-Gonzales’s work in the Arts and Crafts Studio is being able to see other students’ creative processes and their excitement upon creating new pieces. She especially enjoys watching people step out of their comfort zones in workshops and create with unfamiliar mediums.

“Just seeing people come in and create something, I think that’s always really exciting because sometimes they’ll get really excited about it … It’s always exciting to see how excited they get about it,” Atencio-Gonzales said.

Genero, frequenter of the arts and crafts studio and friend of Atencio-Gonzales, hailed her commitment to the executive position. She recalled Atencio-Gonzales pushing for a renovation of the floor to make it safer and spending days reorganizing and cleaning up the studio to prepare to get the floor replaced.

“I think that she’s an incredibly hard worker and she dedicates herself to her job a lot. She puts in a lot of time, a lot of effort,” Genero said.

This year, Atencio-Gonzales would like to expand options available to students by providing more specialty workshops at the studio in niche crafts like candle-making. Among her chief concerns, however, is the fall semester’s Arts and Crafts Fair, an annual ASUNM event where art vendors from across the community are offered a chance to sell their pieces. The planning process is a long one for the studio, with the fair taking place in December.

“For the studio, I’m excited to see more people come into the studio and do what they want, and I’m also excited to put on our craft fair … It’s such a long process, but I’m really excited to do that and get vendors to come in, and hopefully students and people outside of UNM will come and support those vendors … I think it’s a very unique event that ASUNM can put on,” Atencio-Gonzales said.

At any rate, the studio will continue chugging along as a place of inspiration and bonding for UNM students with Atencio-Gonzales at the helm.

“If I could say anything about the studio, I think it’s a really good place for students to come in and relieve stress because I think college could be such a stressful thing, and I think we’re a good little outlet that a lot of people don’t know about … so I hope more people will come in and just see what it’s like,” Atencio-Gonzales said.

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Zara Roy is the copy chief at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at copychief@unm.edu or on Twitter @zarazzledazzle

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