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DEVASTHALI HALL NMSU UNIVERSITY ART MUSEUM

Grad students’ work is part of NMSU’s first exhibit at new art museum

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The unique and thought-provoking artwork of New Mexico State University Art Department MFA student Katrina Chandler will be a part of the very first show at the University Art Museum when it opens Feb. 28. The exhibit continues through May 28, 2020.

The show, “Labor: Motherhood & Art in 2020,” blends many styles and themes. Chandler’s installation includes prints of text conversations of intimate interactions between real people and how they respond and react to one other. That, in turn, will elicit responses and reactions from people who see the exhibit, said Chandler, who grew up in Las Cruces and is a Mayfield High School graduate.

The texts and Chandler’s accompanying comments explore a range of identities, including motherhood, she said, which they expose as, at least in part, a performance. “Our whole identity is a performance,” Chandler said. The conflicts experienced as a result reveal how you “figure out yourself and trying to be a mother.”

The exhibit also includes mini-ceramics by Chandler’s fellow MFA student, Maggie Day.

“I’m very excited,” Chandler said. “Marisa really took us under her wing,” she said about University Art Museum Director Marisa Sage. “This is a really great opportunity for us.”

Chandler and Day are both single mothers. Chandler’s installation includes artwork created by her two children, Elijah, 8, and Colette, 6. During regular visits to the museum while their mother was teaching, the two children were guided by art student Bowen Perry and got to work with paint, clay and collage making, Chandler said. “They loved it.”

Chandler’s art also includes messages on coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets, stickers and even condom wrappers. That, too, represents an intimate sharing between artist and patron, she said. The inherent message with each item is “Take the things I’ve made and take them home,” she said. “Make it a part of your life. Let’s laugh about these things that kind of suck,” she said. “The premise of everything I do is ‘let’s figure out a way to cope.’”

Chandler said she loves teaching and advising art students, which she combines with a passion for graphic design. She’d like to start her own business and wants to be a full-time teacher.

Other artists featured in the show are Tracey Baran, María Berrío, Lenka Clayton, Patty Chang, Amy Cutler, Joey Fauerso, Tierney Gearon, Kate Gilmore, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Las Hermanas Iglesias, Mary Kelly, Justine Kurland, Marilyn Minter, Laurel Nakadate, Yoko Ono, Catherine Opie, Laurie Simmons, Wendy Red Star, Hương Ngô and Hồng- Ân Trương, and Mickalene Thomas.

Co-curators Sage and Nadake “aim to expand upon the diverse and complex conversations regarding motherhood in today’s desperate socio-political climate,” according to a museum news release. “Through video, painting, installation, sculpture, film and photographic works by a diverse group of artists, themes of empowerment, empathy, intimacy, selflessness, vulnerability, failure, anxiety and choice are examined. This exhibition strives to create a laboratory of inclusiveness and support that offers opportunities not only for internationally celebrated artists, but also for the regional community, through local programming and the exhibition of work by New Mexico artists who speak to their own experiences relating to motherhood.”

The museum will host two film nights, Thursday-Friday, March 5-6, in collaboration with the NMSU Creative Media Institute, Gender & Sexuality Studies and the Feminist Border Arts Film Festival.

Collectively, the exhibit and related programming “will take a purposeful look at motherhood in its various forms, from a universal truth and ubiquitous creative act to a solitary and individual experience that changes everything in a woman’s creative life,” the museum news release said.

For more information, call the museum at 575-646-2545. Visit uam.nmsu.edu.

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