NPC boasts a vibrant art program that appeals to people of all ages, interests and educational goals. The classrooms are churning out impressive works by younger, middle-aged and senior students either pursuing careers in art or merely developing their creative talent. Jessica Penrod is a former NPC art student who transferred to a university, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and is now enjoying career success as a ceramic artist.

Jessica creates a vessel on a potter’s wheel using a process called throwing.

Jessica creates a vessel on a potter’s wheel using a process called throwing.

The Pinetop native was an outstanding student at NPC from 2012 to 2014, earning an associate of arts degree, then transferred to the University of New Mexico (UNM), graduating in 2017 as an honors student. She is now creating the core line of ceramics as a potter at Hanselmann Pottery in Corrales, N.M.  

Penrod says, “I chose to study at NPC because I wanted to ease into my college career by completing the first two years at a community college. I knew I would save money, and I could stay close to home while working on my education and transitioning into being on my own. I began studying as a painter, but shortly after learning how to create ceramics on the potter’s wheel, I transitioned into creating functional ceramic vessels.”

An award-winning artist at NPC, Penrod benefitted from the personalized attention students receive from their instructors. Five instructors influenced her: art instructors Magda Gluszek and Peterson Yazzie, along with Andrew Hassard (history), Theresa Dick (music) and Ryan Rademacher (English).

“All of the instructors at NPC prepared me for transferring to a university and for my career,” Penrod says. “The skills I need for my current job as a production potter were learned from Magda Gluszek’s
ceramics course. Magda and Peterson both gave me encouragement during my time at NPC and challenged me to show my creativity. I felt a great amount of support from both my instructors and fellow students to pursue my passion.”   

That passion is now a love of going to work every day. Penrod calls it her big-gest reward. “I love making pieces that I know people will enjoy using at home. Art has such a positive impact on everyone’s life and creates a level of community that brings people together. I would like to keep making utilitarian, functional
pieces that people can enjoy every day and possibly pass on my knowledge in the future through a teaching position.”

Much of Penrod’s artistic inspiration is drawn from living in the Southwest, and she enjoys the dynamic New Mexico arts culture with its many festivals and galleries. She especially likes to portray trees from the White Mountains and other nature of the Southwest on her ceramic products. Penrod also visited Japan in 2016 and learned the Arita Porcelain Process, a 400-year-old tradition of creating vessels on the potter’s wheel using true porcelain.

Penrod encourages others to study art at NPC, commenting, “The instructors are knowledgeable, helpful and inspiring. The studios are great spaces and I learned many valuable skills that not only pre-pared me for the university but improved my skills and ambition as an artist.”

For budding young artists to retirees who enjoy art, NPC is a great place to sharpen your artistic skills and transform your life.