RHC Art Division: The Beauty of Creating Art

The Division of Arts and Cultural Programs of Rio Hondo College is a space where the entire student community interested in art can express and make known their artistic works. The Art Division is located in the business building (B14) and exhibits student work such as photography, painting, and drawing. Likewise, the faculty and staff work with students throughout the process, providing them with the support and tools to meet the needs of all artists.

Painting and Drawing

Professor Sandra Low has taught art at Rio for 15 years, first as a part-time instructor, and for two years now as a full-time instructor. She received Bachelor’s degrees in Art and Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and her Master’s in Fine Art from the University of Southern California. 

Professor Low also explained how and why art is important in society, “just imagine a society without art: no pictures, movies, music, dance, fashion. All the aisles at the grocery store are filled with plain, brown boxes. Visual art is visual communication. Whether you like it or not, culture has become highly image-based: photos, videos, and emojis. Our Arts Division is not just training future artists, but teaching visual literacy,” Professor Low concluded.

Professor Low said that like most artists, curiosity could be an inspiration to create art. “I vacuum up images, and ideas from everything around me. A lot of the time, I take things that make me mad and turn that into a subject in my art: consumerism . . . my mother . . . cheese. I know how ridiculous that sounds, but I’m a great believer in the ridiculous. Anger is a great source of energy if channeled correctly.”

Like Professor Low, Margaret Griffith is a Professor in the College’s Art Division in the area of drawing and painting. Currently, she teaches three different levels of painting and drawing. “My background is in painting and sculpture, I am a professional artist who exhibits my work on a regular basis both locally, nationally, and internationally, and I work mainly with paper and metal,” stated Professor Griffith. “We would love to have more spaces on campus and off campus to showcase our wonderful student artwork.”

Art Students

One of Professor Low’s students is Salma Silva. She is a 21-year-old student, her major is arts for transfer, and she hopes that she can also go into teaching. Silva mentioned that what motivates her to take art classes is that she enjoys learning new things when it comes to art, new forms of art, new techniques, and new styles of art. “I enjoy being near other artists, and seeing their work and I think art classes in college are the best option since most people in them are just as interested in art as I am.”

She also finds inspiration in other artists, “As I get to know people I think of what kind of art they would be if they were art, or what energy they have that I could put into a painting. Forming art out of ideas, dreams, and even random shower thoughts is something that I find fascinating,” Silva said. When creating art she is also inspired by movies, books, and comics and she loves science fiction, anime, and cartoons as well since they’re mostly visual.

Evelyn Barajas is another art student. She graduated from Whittier High School in 2021 as valedictorian and continues her studies here at Rio, majoring in animation to hopefully transfer in the fall of 2023. “I’m motivated to take Art classes because they challenge me and force me out of my comfort zone while I’m also improving skills I’ve had before,” Barajas said. “I also quite enjoy being in art classes in general: the professors push all students creatively, my peers are inspiring, and I’m given valid criticism and tips from both professors and peers.”


In the hallways of the building, you can also find exhibitions of photographs by students. One of the photography instructors is Miyo Stevens-Gandara. Stevens-Gandara is an Associate Professor of Photography in the Division of Arts and Cultural Programs and currently teaches digital photography. Currently, his Photography 140 Class – Introduction to Lighting, is exhibiting their work where students worked together to curate and present their best photographs to the Rio Hondo community.