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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Latin American artwork highlighted by Art Museum

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By Sergio Jiménez / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Oscar Muñoz’s video installation illuminates an attendee at the opening reception of the new summer exhibitions at the UNM Art Museum on Friday. The exhibitions, “Oscar Muñoz: Biografías” and “Luz Restirada: Latin American Photography from the UNM Art Museum,” will run until July 26.

A rich and diverse culture of photographers is being shown political reverence for the first time in many years.

Starting June 9, Oscar Muñoz’s “Biographías” as well as the “Luz Restirada” collection from the UNM Art Museum’s private inventory will be featured, free to the public, all summer long.

Lisa Tamiris Becker, UNM Art Museum director and curator of the Oscar Muñoz “Biographías” exhibition, said she admires the work of Oscar Muñoz because everyone can connect to it on an archetypal level.

“Biographías” features a selection of provocative video works that investigate and explore the instability of the human image, she said.

“He’s a very highly regarded Latin American photographer,” Becker said. “His work is mesmerizing and poetic, at the same time there is a lot of social and political reference, particularly in this ‘Biographías’ piece.”

This event is part of the Digital Latin America project, which highlights the work of prominent Latin-American artists, she said.

It is intended to have great relevance in New Mexico because of the strong connection with Latin-American culture.

“It’s about trying to bring range and diversity across all of the programs we do here at UNM,” Becker said. “It’s really meaningful to have this focus across Albuquerque and have the UNM Art Museum be and important part of that.”

Christian Waguespack, a graduate intern at the Art Museum, said he has been working to curate the “Luz Restirada” exhibition for a long time.

He spent hours each day going through UNM’s massive inventory to find some of the most compelling pieces printed by Latin American photographers, he said.

“We have one of the largest collections of art in the state,” Waguespack said. “I thought, because we have so much, we should really find a way to consolidate our collection into specific themes.”

The theme for this exhibition is how photographers living in Latin America and abroad use the camera to engage with civilization and societal issues, he said.

“Given our university’s connection with Latin American culture, it was the most logical place to start,” Waguespack said.

Daniel Linver, program coordinator and UNM alum, said he was very happy to be a part of the exhibition. Bringing the community together to share a cultural experience was especially moving, he said.

“To be able to showcase the incredible collection we have here is very exciting,” Linver said. “We’re all about getting people in the door; we want everyone to enjoy it.”

Linver received his bachelor’s in political science and, after achieving a master’s degree in art history from the University of Oregon, he returned to Albuquerque to work at the museum, he said.

“We have over 60,000 pieces in our collection,” Linver said. “It’s great to be able to share our culture here at UNM.”

Max Baseman, a senior philosophy major, said he attended the event to visit friends who work at the museum as well as view the art on display.

Baseman uses the UNM Art Museum to enhance his already extensive knowledge of art, he said.

“I can recognize a few of the artists’ names. My dad is an artist, so I grew up in and around a lot of it,” Baseman said. “I usually try to come in more than once for each exhibition.”

The UNM Art Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Tomas Lujan is the assistant culture editor for The Daily Lobo. Contact him at cultureassistant@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @TomasVLujan.