Every summer the Lea County Commission for the Arts (LCCA) presents a summer art camp dedicated to enriching the summer life of the youth in the community of Hobbs. Despite numerous other summer programs in Hobbs, LCCA sticks out. The program is art-based with more than just watercolors and acrylics. Classes range from theater, hip hop dance, cartooning, sculpture, painting and even digital animation. Each class, with the exception of hip hop dance, is intended for students in grades K-9, and each lasts for three hours.

The instructors include cartoonist Mick Cavanaugh, painter Jannett Evans and sculptor Nadia Villa. Cavanaugh taught cartooning last year as part of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program at the Center for the Arts in Hobbs. Another couple of instructors who are truly unique in their medium are dancer Marquez Nunez and filmmaker Dusty Deen. Except Cavanaugh, all are new to this program and to the Center for the Arts.

Marquez Nunes teaches a hip hop dance class that is open to anyone above first grade, adults included, who is interested. Though only 26 years old, the Hobbs resident has learned over 20 styles of dance including breaking, capoeira, waving and cumbia within the last seven years. Nunez said the class should be open to all ages because “dance is for everyone and is the ultimate form of self expression.” Nunez recently performed at the state capitol in Santa Fe in January as well as at numerous venues including Expressions Dance Academy and the Center for the Arts. He also offers private dance lessons and hopes to teach and perform dance full time.

Dusty Deen, an Emmy-nominated artist with a particular interest in filmmaking, is in his third year of instructing film animation at the summer art camp at New Mexico Junior College. Last year, students of his summer art camp class exhibited their video product during the New Media New Mexico Exhibition and Visionfest. Deen also exhibited a music video for “Good Times” by New Mexico band S.H.I.L.O. Deen and his family live in Roswell. His work can be seen at RedRoadrunner.com. We took a moment to ask him about the class he teaches.

RB: What is the hardest part about working with the kids?

Deen: The hardest part of teaching children animation is getting them to slow down and pre-visualize their actions. The animation process can be long and sometimes tedious, and the students are eager to jump in as quickly as possible. I let them do just that in the beginning and afterwards focus on getting them to come up of with a solid plan of execution. We compare their work to teach them that, in this type of work, having a well thought out plan yields better results.

RB: Do you see kids who are already skilled with computers or even animation?

Deen: We live in a world where all of the students are very familiar with touch screen devices, which is what we use to shoot our animations. In some cases students have downloaded a stop-motion app prior and already studied it, and the ones who are new to the app figure it out very quickly. So, the technology aspect they pick up on quickly, but very few have put much thought into how animation is created and the subtle nuances that go into doing so.

RB: What does the class entail?

Deen: We focus primarily on stop-motion animation, though we study various hand-drawn and photographic animation techniques. New Media is an art which stems from animation and graphic design.

RB: Do you cover any of New Media in your classes?

Deen: Definitely. We discuss the history of animation and how it is created up to the present day, which includes things like animated GIFs. We also discuss how animation can be used outside of the realm of entertainment. The students are challenged to create at least one seamless looping animation. Their work from the class is then displayed as a part of the Currents New Media/Visionfest gallery at the Center for the Arts. This awesome opportunity allows the students’ work to be displayed alongside working artists’ work and opens their minds to some of the possibilities of what animation can be and what New Media is and can be!

RB: What type of skills are the kids able to walk away with after this class?

Deen: Most students come into class with the idea that animation is their favorite Pixar or Dreamworks film. Our goal in this class is to expand their minds beyond that while teaching the basics of how animation is created. We have a heavy emphasis on stop motion animation, so, armed with their handheld devices, they will have everything they need to start creating their own animated films.

Classes cost $10 per day, and scholarships are available. Registration is available at lccanm.org and at the Center for the Arts located at 122 W. Broadway. For more information please contact the Center for the Arts at 575-397-2787.