Daniel Cárdenas is a Renaissance man

Published: January 18, 2022

Daniel Cárdenas holding a painting

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Daniel Cárdenas is a Renaissance man.  

The Queensborough student’s artistic passions run the gamut from architecture to digital animation, mixed media, creative writing, poetry and music. His recent architectural abstraction was selected for the 2020 Juried Student Art Exhibit and a mixed media abstract, Metamorphosis, was featured in the 2021 Collective, an esteemed student literary journal published by the College’s English department.  

Cárdenas, 21, says of his work in Metamorphosis, “The piece, called Niños, represents evil acts against humanity. Children are trapped behind barbed wire and nationalist propaganda. My fingerprints connect the imagery of the Holocaust to my Latino identity and today's imprisonment of immigrant children in camps, driven by similarly nationalist propaganda.” 

“My Latino identity inspires all the joy and sorrow that makes me what I am. It represents the trajectory of my life experiences.” 

Cárdenas has thrived as a student since he enrolled in Queensborough in the fall of 2020. He holds a perfect G.P.A., is a prolific artist, a gifted writer, and has taken on a leadership role as President of Queensborough’s Foreign Language Society.  

But like many community college students he must ride two horses at the same time – moving forward in his studies while holding the reins on his job. 

“My shift begins at 7am and by the time I get home it is 6pm,” said Cárdenas, a full-time dishwasher and server's helper at a local diner. I’m a full-time asynchronous student so I must study my animation classes in the evening.” 

Born in Ecuador, Cárdenas was raised in Spain before moving to the U.S. with his parents in 2016. They settled in Corona, Queens where his mother’s grandparents resides. 

“I inherited my love for architecture from my father, but I want to be part of the architectural revolution and create 360° digital art simulations of my designs, much like the Van Gogh immersive exhibit in Manhattan.” 

In the summer of 2018 Cárdenas’s excellent marks and drive earned him an $8,000 scholarship given to Pan American International High School he attended, to participate in an intensive architectural program at the Parsons School of Design in Manhattan. He was also in the ACE Mentor Program of Greater New York, where he studied architecture from mentors who are environmentalists. 

“I have had incredible opportunities that have helped lead me to where I am today,” said Cárdenas, who is also enrolled in Queensborough’s ASAP program. “Even during this pandemic, Queensborough has come through so I can stay the course.”  

Cárdenas has his eye on graduating in fall 2022, and then continuing at a CUNY school to study animation architecture. 



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