Meet Arnela M.

Fine Arts Graduate

“The Fine Arts community at Hudson Valley is something special.”

A recommendation from her South Colonie High School art teacher helped Arnela Mahmutovic land at Hudson Valley's Fine Arts A.S. degree program.

"I'd always enjoyed art but at the time I thought of it more as a hobby, I guess. When I was deciding on colleges, my art teacher, Thomasa Neilsen, said 'Why don't you do art. Hudson Valley has a great program and if you don't like it, you can try something else.' "

Arnela found in Hudson Valley's Fine Arts program a supportive, tight-knit community of faculty and students who set high standards for themselves and each other.

"The Fine Arts community at Hudson Valley is something special," she said. "You are gauged by your work ethic and how dedicated you are to what you're doing. It was great to be a part of something that pushed me. Not pushed me in a bad way but they set up a rigor that you can apply to your work or really anything else in your life."

Arnela's art has evolved to reflect her personal experience as a second generation American and also also her identity as a Bosniak – a Bosnian Muslim. Her parents were forced to flee their home country during the war in the early 1990s and first lived in Germany, where Arnela was born, before arriving in the Capital District when she was five.

She said her art, in many ways, is informed by a basic struggle with her identity – not being seen as American enough for some and not Bosnian enough for others. "I guess that's what you do when you're in your early 20s, you're trying to decide who you are, and for me part of it is balancing my parents' tradition with growing up in America since I was five. Many of the Bosnians who came here came with nothing but they built a community and it's important for them to uphold the culture. I'm thankful for that. But I did struggle against my parents' traditions sometimes. "

After graduating from Hudson Valley, Arnela continued her education at Maine College of Art in Portland, where she received her B.F.A. in 2017. She's hoping to continue her education next year and also continue exploring her personal journey through art. Her work ethic and commitment to the program were noted by Hudson Valley Fine Arts faculty member Thom Lail, who called her "one of the very exceptional students with whom I have worked."

"Arnela's commitment to her Fine Arts studies was thorough and almost immediate," said Professor Lail. "As a peer tutor in the Drawing studios, she proved herself a natural and gifted teacher while always pushing herself and her work in the studio."