The University of New Mexico Graduate Art Association is having its 24th Annual Juried Art Exhibition at the UNM Art Museum now through May 5.
The graduate students in the Department of Art & Art History at UNM have an opportunity to have their work on display every year in this exhibit. The exhibit is put on and run by the GAA. The GAA chooses the juror and oversees the jurying process, according to Mary Statzer, the UNM Art Museum curator of prints and photographs and this year’s juror for the art exhibit.
Statzer is new to the UNM Art Museum and collaborated with Steven Hurley, the UNM Art Museum coordinator of exhibitions to put up this year’s exhibit.
“I am on the physical nuts and bolts side of the exhibition. We collaborate to best mix the (art) mediums. We try different things out and see what works and see what doesn't,” Statzer said.
Statzer visited 37 different studios during her jurying process. In the past, these studios were visited by the juror when the artists were not there. This year, however, Statzer decided to visit the artists while they were in their studio.
Statzer wanted to give the artists a chance to explain their art and the process they went through to create it, and to allow this conversation to inform the jurying process, she said.
“We want to build up our relationship with the students in the program. I want to continue to have a conversation and an open dialogue with the current students and the students to come. We want the museum to be a resource for students,” Statzer said.
In total 26 different artists’ works were selected for the exhibit, which includes about 50 pieces of art. The exhibit includes sculptures, photographs, printmaking, paintings and multimedia.
Hurley and Statzer were careful when it came to how they arranged the artwork within the exhibit, Hurley said.
“In a group show like this, there isn't one theme. It is important to lay out the artwork so that each artist’s work is best presented and interacts well with the art around it,” Statzer said.
One of the artists, Monica Kennedy, had two types of self-portraiture at the exhibit. The first was a photograph of her family when she was a child, taken and turned into more of a three-dimensional piece of art, Statzer said. The second self-portraiture was a collection of four different wooden railroad ties. Each of these were beginning to fall apart, and some of them had unfired porcelain coating the outside.
Another artist, Hollis Moore is a UNM graduate student and printmaker.
Her work included a print that was once two-dimensional that she then dragged through the water and the mud of a river that transformed it into a sculpture, said Stratzer.
One of Moore’s other pieces was a flip book showing her dragging the paper through the river.
Flip books are not often texturally interesting but like her sculpture, the flip book feels almost as though it has been dragged through mud, according to Statzer.
“These two pieces have an excellent dialogue, because they are very different, but also related in that the flip book is showing the process of how the first piece was made,” Statzer said.
Hurley and Statzer have tried to include a variety of students and types of work in this exhibition. There are so many different topics being approached in a multitude of ways, Statzer said.
“We included first, second and third year students. It includes a broad range of mediums, so we have printmaking, multimedia, sculpture, photography and paints all here. It was easy to have so many different mediums, because the studio program here at UNM, is very good at giving students a lot of latitude to work in different mediums,” Statzer said.
The art exhibition gives students a chance to practice and learn about the exhibition process, according to Jess Peri, a third year graduate student in the studio program.
Peri said he is thankful for this opportunity, particularly because his photography will be going up in his thesis exhibition in three weeks.
“My experience in the UNM graduate program has been really good, partly because it's such a dynamic community. In our program there are 15 of us, and we are all doing such different things — and what’s more, we are encouraged to do that,” Peri said.
He is one of 15 students in the photography program. Peri’s work at the UNM Art Museum focuses on GPS technology.
Peri will go out and map the same area over and over again using a GPS, then he will download this information and translate it into the photographs, he said.
Visually, what this translates to is a photograph of where Peri was mapping the landscape using the GPS. The the photograph is overlaid with the lines from the GPS. His pieces at this exhibition were of mountainous terrain with red and white lines showing the GPS data, he said.
“Using GPS, this technology that we use every day to navigate, I create my artwork. Sometimes we can take this tool for granted, and so I am incorporating this technology into my photographs,” Peri said.
Statzer and Hurley said they hope students outside the Department of Art & Art History will see not only the beauty in this artwork but also its intellectual value.
Art and the process of art making can be informative and an excellent way to incite conversation, Statzer said.
“There are lots of important issues being engaged through art making. Students who are not studying art can come and learn how artists engage in border issues in our culture, so like sexuality, or issues of family, politics or the environment. It is important to know that there are artists at UNM who are interested in the same topics that they are interested in,” Statzer said.
Megan Holmen is a freelance reporter for news and culture at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or on Twitter @megan_holmen.