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UNM student Emily Vosburgh needed $750 to start her art project called “Abstractions of Utopia,” which points out utopias in everyday life. She received the money via Kickstarter in a month, and her walking tour and art show opens in May at 5G gallery.

Utopias bloom in the everyday

To UNM student Emily Vosburgh, utopias aren’t an abstraction — they can be found in a leaning spruce tree, the gravel by the side of the road or the cement surrounding trees.

Vosburgh’s art project, “Abstraction of Utopia,” consists of a gallery installation and a walking tour of Downtown through which participants focus on often-forgotten everyday sights and sounds.
“It’s kind of like a moving meditation,” Vosburgh said. “The way you move is always a choice — you can choose to drive, ride your bike, walk or even skip — but movement, at least for me, means being present in a moment.”

Vosburgh, a student in the College of Fine Arts, began the project six months ago after reflecting on the commonly held view of utopia as an impossible destination. In researching different interpretations of this idea, she began to realize that finding utopia was not necessarily out of people’s reach.

“I thought maybe utopia is something that we just have to tap into,” Vosburgh said.

Vosburgh’s exploration eventually led her to Albuquerque’s Downtown, where she mapped out a trail and developed a tour that will begin in and run through May. The static, found-object exhibit of “Abstraction of Utopia” will be housed at 5G Gallery.

The walking tour, which is a couple of blocks in length, is broken up by a series of specific landmarks indicative of “found beauty” — utopia among the ordinary.

“I wanted the tour to be around this industrial place with barbed wire and traffic and medians because (“Abstraction of Utopia”) is about taking the space that we already have and transforming it by the way you choose to move through it,” Vosburgh said.

To help pay for the gallery space and increase awareness of her project, Vosburgh listed “Abstraction of Utopia” on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Vosburgh offered personalized thank-you letters, gallery cards announcing the exhibit and private tours to financial backers. The Kickstarter page for “Abstraction of Utopia” was launched in February and met its goal of $750 one month later.

UNM fine arts professor Jessamyn Lovell said bridging the gap between artist and audience through Kickstarter and more interactive exhibits is a positive development for the artistic community.

“I personally would like to see more artwork made by people who wouldn’t necessarily go to school for art,” Lovell said. “I think that’s the kind of work Emily’s making … the kind of work that will bring more people into that openness of discussion. Hopefully, it will open people up to engaging more with art and making art of their own.”

“Abstraction of Utopia” opens in May, but the exact date is still to be determined. For more information on the project, go to and search for “Abstraction of Utopia.”

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