Why Liberal Arts are essential to a quality education

Assistant Professor, Crisosto Apache, has deep roots in the Rocky Mountain region. The New Mexico native grew up on the Mescalero Apache Reservation in the Sacramento Mountain Range, the southern tip of the Rockies. Apache says driving through the Colorado mountains makes him feel like he’s right at home.

As a child, Apache loved to read and draw. Throughout his childhood, Apache saw a lot of success in local contests as both a writer and an artist. Apache’s skills took him to the next level where he received a full scholarship to attend the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he majored in creative writing.

Apache is an artist at heart with a passion to tell a good story through visuals and writing. In an interview with RMCAD, the professor talks about why Liberal Arts are essential to a quality education.

What inspired you to switch from painting to communications?

Earlier in my career, I started as a painter. There is no separation between painting and writing. Both are forms of creative expression. I have always told myself, I am an artist first, then I become a writer or painter. Any medium of art is art and I see no difference interjecting each form. That is how versatile art is.

Why do artists need to know how to write?

One day artists will be asked to write critically about their work and others. Artists need to know how to interact with the academic world because art is moving in that direction. Artists also need to know how to write because they might need to apply for contests, grants, scholarships, residencies, and fellowships. These areas are very competitive and knowing how to write can further their career by acquiring the accolades. 

Why is Liberal Arts significant to a RMCAD education?

Liberal Arts teaches students some of the fundamental application which any artist can apply and find useful. In my experience, many of the fundamental applications I learned from my general studies, such as math and writing.

For someone who comes from a diverse background, what advice can you give to students who also come from a similar upbringing?

Diverse people always stand out. Never be afraid to stand out. The example you set by demonstrating courage to be diverse, will inspire others. People who stand out do not realize now how much of a beacon they are until some approaches them to thank them for standing apart. It takes a lot of courage to be diverse and in the greater numbers of diversity, people will find solidarity. 

What are the three things you think artists should know?

Above all, practice, practice, practice. In your practice, you will fail. Embrace your failures and learn from your adversity. Then seek ways to make improvements. The acquisition of knowledge is the best tool to sharpen while being an artist. Learn from everyone and everything, and never stop being resourceful. Develop a community. Your community is important because they will support you no matter what.

Note: Some of the questions in this interview have been edited for clarity and brevity.