The University Art Gallery at New Mexico State University will receive a $15,000 Art Works award from The National Endowment for the Arts for their interdisciplinary exhibition, “GEOMAGIC: Art, Science and the Zuhl Collection.”
“Viewers will see both actual fossil remains and an artists’ interpretations of these fossils,” said Jeffrey Brown, associate dean for research in the College of Arts and Sciences. “This collaborative project will bring together the best artistic and scientific practices in the College of Arts and Sciences.”
The gallery was selected from more than 1,700 applicants to receive funding as part of an $82 million grant from the NEA to fund local arts projects and partnerships nationwide.
In the exhibition premiering this fall, curators Marisa Sage, director of the gallery, and Tiffany Santos, director of the Zuhl Collection at NMSU, will showcase contemporary art alongside natural specimens from the Zuhl Collection, such as fossils and minerals.
“This is the only project awarded in New Mexico in the Visual Arts discipline/field,” Sage said. “Tiffany Santos and I have curated ‘GEOMAGIC’ to draw parallels between artistic practice as seen in an artist’s studio, and scientific processes as witnessed in laboratories and excavation.
“By juxtaposing natural specimens from the Zuhl Collection alongside select works by 10 internationally recognized artists, we hope to show our community and region that collaborations between the arts and sciences can yield new knowledge, outcomes and perspectives.”
The Zuhl collection consists of about 1,800 pieces of petrified wood as well as other fossils and minerals donated to NMSU by Herb and Joan Zuhl, who retired to Las Cruces after spending 30 years collecting and selling petrified wood as a business. The pieces range in age from 30 million to 200 million years old, some weighing as much as 2,500 pounds.
“The arts are all around us, enhancing our lives in ways both subtle and obvious, expected and unexpected,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Supporting projects like the one from the University Art Gallery at NMSU offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”
The NEA Art Works category supports the creation and presentation of both new and existing work, as well as lifelong learning and public engagement with the arts.
“GEOMAGIC” and its educational programming are intended to reach the science, contemporary art and educational communities at regional and national levels, Sage explained. Public programs for the exhibition will include a panel, bi-weekly lectures by scientists and artists, a student exhibition and educational workshops.
NMSU geography professor Jack Wright sees the collection as an important bridge between science and art.
“The pieces encourage us to cast aside concrete ideas about geo-reality,” Wright explained. “The artists in this show invite us to see what lies beneath, to slice below the surface and delve into the environmental and spiritual challenges all around us. For the natural environment to survive, we must create generations of artist-scholars such as these; a tribe of environmental expressionists equally at home in a lab and a studio.”
Featured artists will include Christine Gray, Jason Middlebrook, Megan Harrison, Amy Brener, Laura Moriarty, Katie Paterson, Emily Nachison, Christine Nguyen, Andrew Yang and Ryan Thompson. Each artist within their practice utilizes various mediums that resemble, echo and mimic the geological to explore our ever-evolving scientific and technological landscape.
To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, use #NEASpring16. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to www.arts.gov.
If approved by voters in November, $22.5 million is planned for a new visual arts facility to replace D.W. Williams Hall, a 78-year-old former gymnasium that currently houses NMSU’s Department of Art and the University Art Gallery. The funding is part of General Obligation Bond C for higher education projects. No tax increases are associated with these bonds.
Author: Dana Beasley – NMSU