Graduates of CNM: Patricio Tlacaelel Trujillo y Fuentes

Patricio is a CNM graduate who has dedicated his life to creating art and serving others who are in need
March 02, 2022

In the wake of the 2019 mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart that targeted Hispanics and Latinos, local artist and CNM alumnus Patricio Tlacaelel Trujillo y Fuentes decided to form a League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) council here in Albuquerque to help support those who belong to underserved and marginalized communities.

Fast forward to 2021 and the group has now raised several thousand dollars that it awarded to three local organizations in order to provide scholarships for students with financial need. Among those organizations was CNM’s TRIO program, which provides free student support services with a special focus on students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Being able to make that donation to TRIO was a full circle moment for Patricio, as well as two other members of the LULAC council, because they all participated in the program while attending CNM.

“It was like our way of saying ‘thank you’ for everything that TRIO gave us,” Patricio says. “I don’t know that I could have gotten through had it not been for TRIO. They really were helpful with resources, computers, tutoring, and just a place to go if I wanted to be around people.”

Patricio was both a performer and visual artist in New York City and Albuquerque before deciding to return to school as a non-traditional student in 2015. However, it’s CNM and especially TRIO that he credits with helping him take his art and advocacy work to the next level.

“I didn’t grow up knowing what going to college meant or registering for classes or deadlines or what a semester was,” Patricio says. “So being able to go to TRIO and get help navigating all of those things was really a great opportunity, and I think a lot of the success I’ve had since can really be attributed to TRIO.”

After receiving an associate degree in Liberal Arts from CNM, Patricio transferred to UNM where he earned his bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. Since then, he has continued to experience success as an educator and artist, performing in nearly every venue in the city. 

His one-man show based on the epic poem “Yo Soy Joaquin,” written by Rudolfo Corky at the start of the Chicano Movement, is just one of the many undertakings that Patricio has become known for since graduating from CNM.

“That’s really my main focus, to live my life as an artist and an advocate for people in need,” he says.

On top of performing, Patricio is also a visual artist specializing in cut paper art, which he describes as a more contemporary take on the traditional Mexican craft known as papel picado. And if that wasn’t enough, he recently put together a photo series called “The Chair” that he’s hoping to showcase in a local museum or gallery.

“I got a chair that was really beautiful and rustic and large, and I started photographing community members sitting in the chair to create sort of a record of people in Albuquerque,” Patricio says. “It’s a really nice little microcosm showing who the community is.”

Just a few of the people featured in the photo series include CNM history professor Dr. Yvonne Darcy, New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colón, and famous civil rights activist Dolores Huerta who co-founded the National Farmworkers Association with Cesar Chavez.

Dolores Huerta

In addition to his art, Patricio plans to continue his work as a community advocate alongside others from his LULAC council group. The winner of last year’s raffle fundraiser, Margarita Maestas, opted to put her share of the money back into the scholarship fund, and now the group aims to double the amount raised in the coming year.  

“Our hope is that students in need who receive the awards will know there are people out there who are invested in their future, who care about their future, who want to see them succeed and are willing to help with whatever we can,” Patricio says.