UNM representatives sifted through hundreds of art pieces Thursday to decide which ones to add to the University’s collection.

Representatives from various campus departments attended an artwork selection meeting Thursday, choosing pieces from a 600-piece assortment. UNM receives its funding as a lump sum, and departments take turns selecting artwork every three years, said Kelly Huber, project coordinator for New Mexico Arts in Public Places.

“UNM has tons of money to spend here,” she said. “You can buy anything that you want, so I would advise buying a more expensive, really treasured piece instead of many little ones just to fill up space.”

Zimmerman and Centennial libraries, the Health Sciences Center and UNM West campus received $50,000 of state money for artwork.

The One Percent for Public Art Program, founded in 1986, gives each public building money to buy artwork that is equivalent to 1 percent of the building’s construction costs.

Jonathon Abrams, former UNMH chief of cardiology and founder of the hospital’s Jonathan Abrams Art Gallery, was involved in the selection process. He said displaying quality art on campus improves morale.

“It makes a lot of people feel good when they see it,” Abrams said. “It may sound kind of hokey, but it is kind of an element.”

UNM West campus Representative Beth Miller said artwork in common areas facilitates student success.

“It definitely contributes to creating a positive environment for studying,” she said. “It changes the dynamic of the learning environment.”

Huber presented a slideshow of paintings, photography, drawings, sculptures, media and mixed media for representatives to select from.
“Everything here is pre-screened for quality,” she said. “The whole process takes a while; it is about three to four months before you see the artwork actually placed in the building.”

Blank campus walls need artwork, said Chris Fenton of the HSC Art Program.

“I’m sure students do notice and appreciate it,” she said. “We send out evaluations to patients, and a lot of the feedback is about the art. A lot of research is going on about the importance of art for cognitive benefit.”

Abrams said he was overwhelmed by the array of artwork.
“It is almost unfair to have to choose,” he said.