The University of New Mexico’s Department of Art held Art90 last week in celebration of its 90-year anniversary on March 30, with a graduate art exhibition, refreshments and live entertainment in Hodgin Hall.

The Art Department has evolved since it first began 90 years ago. In honoring the development of the arts, UNM’s Art alumni were welcomed back to reflect on the history and success of art at the University. 

Associate Professor and Department Chair, Justine M. Andrews, said that in her experience working in the art department the last 15 years, she has as seen the department develop and grow.

“We have some new areas reflective of new interests in the field,” Andrews said. “Art Ecology, which is focused on the interaction between humans and the environment and how art can reflect and engage with those questions, is one of them.

Andrews said the introduction of art education into the department helped them grow in a new way.

"I think that makes for a really great, large team of people who are able to work with students on a lot of different aspects of art,” Andrews said.

Along with hosting an event commemorating 90 years of art, Art90 paired its event with the graduate art exhibition in the neighboring Art Annex.

Ellie Kane, a Ph.D. candidate in art history, curated the exhibition and said she enjoyed welcoming people into the show.

“I really liked the idea of helping the artists get their names out there, especially given that we have this 90-year anniversary celebration going on with the alumni at the same time,” Kane said. “I liked the idea of being able of being able to plug in the speakers for the artists.” 

Kane curated the show to highlight the student’s excellence by placing the artists names before the title of their piece. 

“For me the idea is that when someone looks at (student art) they note the name, and then they could have someone to talk to about it,” she said. “It seems to me that titles are the first thing and then the artists name is secondary— but for me the purpose of this show is the other way around.”

Jessica Zeglin and Viola Arduini are MFA candidates in the Arts and Ecology program at UNM. By participating in the show, they showed their ability to think critically about our communities and how they relate to art and ecological research. 

“The question of ‘what are we doing here?’ comes up in the classroom a lot,” said Arduini. “Most of the subjects that come up in the Art and Ecology classrooms are not medium based. It’s not about learning a technique, it’s about thinking.”

Zeglin added that the ability to think critically, but also feel critically about the arts and how they relate to what’s going on in the world is important to her studies.

“We’re not alone in feeling that there are crises happening in the world in many different ways, both economically and socially,” Zeglin said. “I think a lot of folks are trying to grapple with how to live in a more just society and a more just ecology, and how to engage people in creating that together through artwork and emotion.”

Art90 hoped to remind people about how important the arts are, by bringing current graduate students and alumni together to reflect on art’s past and where it is going in the future. 

Amanda Britt is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at or on Twitter @AmandaBritt__.