Belen — A pair of high school interns are thriving in Belen’s art scene thanks to the Belen Creative Art Industries Initiative.

Sophia Jaramillo, a student at Belen High School, and Natalie Morales, an Infinity High School student, are participating in a new internship program with the Belen Creative Art Industries Initiative. Both are high school seniors, who are channeling their creativity and passion into the art world.

The BCAII is a nine-month program funded by a $100,000 grant from the Creative Industries Division, which is part of the state’s Economic Development Department.

The program aims to support artists and creative industries in Belen, to increase economic returns from the creative sector. The internship program is specifically designed to teach students about the business aspects of art, the art world and the local art scene.

Jesse Jones | News-Bulletin photo
Belen Creative Art Industries Initiative interns, Natalie Morales and Sophia Jaramillo stand with Jo’l Moore, the coordinator of the program, in the Belen Art League.

The program offers hands-on experience and mentorship to help interns develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the field.

As members of the Young Creators Club at school, Jaramillo and Morales would organize art exhibitions at the library for people to come and visit.

“We both applied because we wanted to just keep doing the art shows and being a part of the community,” Jaramillo said.

Both interns share a common desire to pursue teaching as their career path. Morales has a keen interest in teaching either kindergarten or first grade, but her internship experience has also made her consider becoming an art teacher.

Jaramillo aims to start her career as a teacher and then later pursue a master’s degree in speech pathology.

Since the start of the internship, these enthusiastic young women have been learning about different aspects of the art industry. Both students have been receiving education on the art world from their mentor, Jo’l Moore, who is the coordinator of the BCAII.

The initiative had initially planned to hire only one intern, but when both students applied, Moore suggested hiring both to have a partner to work with. They are being taught how to organize exhibitions, improve their artistic abilities by assisting with teaching children and they are gaining knowledge about the business side of the art world by assisting artists with their social media advertising.

The interns have been working with the Young Entrepreneurs group at H2 Academic Solutions to assist in the development of their business ideas. In the seven weeks of the internship, Jaramillo and Morales will aid the young entrepreneurs in creating mascots and logos for their businesses. They will also be designing business cards for all the children’s enterprises.

“I like working with the kids; it’s rewarding whenever they feel good about their business coming together and how they get into putting it together on their own,” said Morales.

They will work as classroom aides in four high school art classes from March to May, then curate an art exhibit for the Young Entrepreneurs and the art classes.

On Tuesday afternoons, the duo helps the kids at the Lego Club at the Belen Public Library.

“We just basically build Legos, and I love Legos so I’m having fun the whole time,” said Jaramillo.

It’s not all fun and games for the interns, part of their job is to help local artists create social media pages.

The interns interview and photograph local artists to get an understanding of their artwork and personalities. Then, they create social media posts for each artist on all of BCAII’s social media.

Submitted photo
The Belen Creative Art Industries Initiative recently held a craft logo class.

“I love talking to the artists, interviewing them and getting their perspective of their art,” says Jaramillo. “A lot of times, we see the art and we don’t get to know what the artist was really thinking.”

One of the favorite artists the interns interviewed was Casey Thompson. They admire his process of making art, from creating his canvases to the meaning behind each piece.

The two students have experienced personal growth and been inspired, and both recommend anyone interested in art or trying something new to give it a shot.

“I’d say test the waters. Don’t be scared because I was never really interested in art but now that I’m starting to work with it, I’m getting super inspired,” says Morales. “So, I’d say don’t be scared to try things that you might think you might not like because you never know.”

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Jesse Jones lives in Albuquerque with his wife and son. Jesse graduated from of the University of New Mexico twice. This spring, he graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism and, in 2006, he received a bachelor’s degree in university studies with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a current fellow of the New Mexico Local News Fund.