Identity as Material, Material as Identity

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2020 JURIED GRADUATE EXHIBITION Van Deren Coke Gallery, at the UNM Art Museum March 3 – April 25, 2020


Identity as Material, Material as Identity The relevancy of contemporary art lies in its ability to reflect moments of the lived experience. Layers of textures, moments, and connections to materials exist in the experiences. Beauty alongside pain rise to the surface, reminding us of the nuances of humanity. Identity as Material, Material as Identity serves as a testimony that art is not simply about the object. It is about the human behind and in front of the object. Art is about the human condition. Material is simply that—material. Material is the lived experience. The artists presented in this exhibition tell us that art and humanity are intertwined, and the future is here. While the future is here, the past is also present. In a world where we are asked to disassociate our beings with our work, due to the hegemony at play, especially in the art world, it is refreshing to know that these artists are continuing to deconstruct the past and present into the future. The future is here. -Jeffreen M. Hayes, Ph.D., Juror

By Jackson Larson

HAZEL BATREZCHAVEZ Hazel Batrezchavez received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Studio Art and Anthropology from Grinnell College in 2017. Batrezchavez has since participated in group exhibitions and pop-up shows in the United States, specifically in California, New Mexico, Iowa, and most recently México City, and Michoacán, México. Batrezchavez currently resides in Albuquerque, and teaches Introduction to Art Practices and Shop Foundations while pursuing an MFA in Sculpture at the University of New Mexico. Batrezchavez is also an active protestor of many issues surrounding the boarder and immigration.

The embroidery piece, ne(GRITA) contains embroidered ten different sayings that include the word “negra/o” and “negrita/o.” The piece has the feel of a sign that one might see in a protest, and in many ways it is a protest. For this piece, Batrezchavez uses the art of textile to explore the violence of language. While the practice of sewing and making textiles was passed on by their grandmother, however, so were certain concepts and nicknames that now feel limiting. Batrezchavez processes these issues, and questions how to hold on to one’s culture and heritage while letting go of its more harmful aspects. Batrezchavez explores the many dimensions of language. Woven through the text is a cypher, a hidden message of hope and empowerment. The piece is coupled with a spoken word performance in which Batrezchavez animates her textile with her own unique cadence. The performance incorporates themes of immigration, migration, and heritage, and bring the urgency of a protest to the work.

ne(GRITA), 2018 Embroidered cloth. 36 x 48 inches

By Ellie Kane and Ragini Bhow

RAGINI BHOW Created in 2019, “A sky sent sandy kiss” is thirteen by sixteen-inch lithograph. In her first piece using this technique, Bhow depicts a portal using individual white dots of varying sizes against a deep black background. This minimal yet dense movement of tiny dots acts like a topographical map and creates the illusion that the viewer is looking down a passageway. The clusters of shapes, resembling plotted constellations, seem to hang on the walls, and the passage ends with a ring of dots that can be viewed as the doorway to the portal. “A sky sent sandy kiss” seems to directly address one of Bhow’s central themes in her work, the idea of intuitively connecting with the unknown, through a process which she describes as an attempt to overcome generations of perceptual conditioning. Bhow contends that her work “operates from a space that uncovers and honors underlying connections that unite all spaces.”

A sky sent sandy kiss Lithograph 11 x 14 inches

By Amy Catherine Hulshoff

CHANTEL BOLLINGER Discrimination, like Whiteness, exists on a spectrum that has been designed and reinforced by institutionalized racism; an institution of White culture. This culture thrives on the controlled mitigation and distribution of images of power and of the perception of power over people of color. This is especially true of the art world where acceptable images play off the positive stereotyping of color (the non-White), making all the difference between the success or failure of a creative practice based on how well it plays into White expectations of value and materiality. The image of a boy, cast is pure white Laguna Frost porcelain, bears the marks of not only his color but of its consequence. Three holes punctuate his chest and abdomen, with his hands both protecting and defending his person (though histories of White reconciliation would tell us his hands gesture a Christ-like forgiveness). He is both alive and dead, white and black, named and unnamed. The medium itself questions our artistic priorities and intrinsic material values, as the body hangs heavy on the wall; it contradicts its classic usage for small, fragile, and expensive decorative objects.

All Lives? Frost porcelain 20 x 10 x 6 inches

Objectively, Bollinger is negotiating the possible aesthetics of events that otherwise fade away as snapshots of increasingly common events; what does it take to resist becoming white noise? Additionally, she is questioning what it takes to get a person to relate to this subject matter as more than just spectacles of police-state violence, but as narratives. This requires more than just empathy on the part of the viewer, because by relating to the narrative a person must come to terms with their role in this event; their role in a culture of violence in which complacency is a weapon. White culture dominates our politics and art market in a society that accepts sympathy and empathy as passable moral reactions in place of actionable reparation. This culture struggles now in an increasingly diverse canon of works that push for more than just inclusivity. Inclusion is the weapon of White culture and of White reconciliation, when enough is always just enough. It helps to conceal the allowance of black imagery on the racialized spectrum of institutional Art. Bollinger asks of us a difficult question: do all lives matter? The truth of White culture is that all lives matter if and when they are engaged appropriately in imperial capitalist systems. If not, public policy shows that the penalty is surely death; the acceptable sacrifice of “culture�.

By Ellie Kane and Khutso Paynter

KHUTSO PAYNTER Created in 2018 Khutso Edgar’s “Glass Kiss to a Ghost from my Memory” is a sixteen by eighteen-inch oil painting on canvas. A dull lemon-yellow strip about two to three inches wide with a semi-transparent undulating line, flows across the top of the work. Below this strip, there is a thin two to three-inch opaque orange oil stick overlay, that highlights the texture of the gessoed canvas below. One feature of the work occupies the vast majority of the canvas; the ice-blue rings that circle, spiral and chain, creating a line that almost fully covers the dark purple background. One of the first works to display this technique, Edgar calls this “a breakthrough piece.” This distilling down of his process relates to the decluttering of both his studio and life, what he refers to as “relishing the space and enjoying the process of keeping space open.”

Having previously utilized a more gesturally abstract language, this piece marks a departure from the artist’s use of the grid to execute a composition. In this way, his depiction of space is a consequence of pragmatic mark-making coupled with intuitive material investigation. Edgar states that he “makes aesthetic decisions based on intuition and practicality.” This alludes to a reoccurring thematic element in Edgar’s work; the insights and limitations of objects created through hand intelligence. In his artist statement Edgar refers to “an impossibility,” in his paintings, referencing the struggle between the imagined ideal most artists envision before creating a work, and the actual final appearance of the work. This struggle is not necessarily negative, due to the fact that these shortcomings/flaws continually inform his work.

Glass kiss to a ghost from my memory, 2018 Oil on canvas 16 x 18 inches

By Paloma Barraza

JUANA ESTRADA HERNÁNDEZ Immigration and border politics have rampaged the news outlets recently, oftentimes generating a negative stigma towards undocumented immigrants. In her prints, Juana Estrada-Hernandez portrays the brutal realities that immigrants face, especially as they cross the man-made U.S./Mexico border. In the intaglio print, “Lo que no los muestran,” Estrada-Hernandez observes the inhumane conditions of child detention centers and the makeshift shelters built by Central American immigrants seeking asylum at the border. The top half of print depicts a tent created out of sewn up fabrics attached to the fence to provide shelter. Under the tent, remnants of personal belongings such as trash bags and blankets as well as scattered items surrounding the tent, including: boxes, bags, bottles, toilet paper, water jugs, and hats all allude to what had to be left behind. The young boy on the right holds a bottle of Coca-Cola and blanket as he walks away from the tent. A traditional Mexican devil mask covers the identity of the figure. This symbol is commonly used in Estrada-Hernandez’s prints to

Lo que no los muestran Intaglio, hand-coloring, paper cut-outs 31 x 22-1/2 inches

represent the racialization process of crossing the border. The bottom half of the print postulates a different perspective of what was abandoned; the remnants have become cutouts of belongings but also cutouts of figures, representing those who perished. Frequently unaccounted for, the deaths and disappearances at the border are oftentimes marginalized by border patrol and the media. Through the reductive process of mezzotint, Estrada-Hernandez reveals the figures and brings to light their determination and sacrifice. The 2 color-run lithograph with mezzotint is part of a series titled Self-portrait, honoring Estrada-Hernandez’s parents. The portrait of her father reveals a serene side not often shown, his cracked fingernails and callused hands emphasizing his laborious life. Three geometric black-and-white forms float behind her father’s face, highlighting some of her family’s past, such as a glimpse of the U.S./Mexico border on the top left of the print, the broken ladder on the top right and the glimpse of the first home that Estrada-Hernandez and her family lived in when they arrived to the United States. The plants, native to the Mexica region, are placed around her father represents each of the children that her parents had. The print highlights different places that gave her family shelter and has ultimately shaped Estrada-Hernandez’s artwork. The two prints demonstrate the difficulty that immigrants can have identifying with a place as their new home. The strenuous journey across the border inhibits people from claiming a place as their own, as they have left their home behind and have no certainty of where they will eventually settle. In that journey, the main priority is shelter and survival.

Self-Portrait (Part One) Lithograph, mezzotint, hand-coloring 22-1/2 x 22-1/2 inches

By Noel Mollinedo

RANRAN FAN This autobiographical image straddles a line between portraiture and still life. Constructed in a domestic environment, this image could have been captured in the artist’s home in Albuquerque NM. Her glasses, an explicit signifier of Fan’s presence within the photograph, are also an object present with her whether in the United States or in the People’s Republic of China. As a youth in the years following the Tiananmen Square protests, Fan would have experienced censorship around politically sensitive issues under the ruling Chinese Communist Party. In retrospect, this need for creative and cryptic communication would find expression within her art practice. What is visible here is a translation of material and a series of socially aware questions.

Daily Pills Inkjet print and plexiglass 45 x 56 inches

Fan engages with materials beyond traditional photographic practices. For the installation of this image, she 3D printed larger than life pills. A material investigation would recognize the translation between machine and human present within both processes of printing. Photography, originally a transposition of light, operates here as a translation of data through pixels. Fan’s “Daily Pills” exemplifies a complex morphological study that demonstrates her ability to move between socio-culturally specific settings as well as artistic mediums. In the photograph, two of these 3D printed pills are broken open. The viewer can read the text, “should you feel for your sex toy,” as well as “for your reproductive apparatus.” To question the affect around the presence of a sex toy is to see beyond its direct functionality and recognize the social role it plays, whether that is as a conduit to experience or mediator of human connection. When paired with the form of a pill, these questions challenge who has access to birth control and who has the authority to prescribe not only the medication but also the way in which one should feel for sex toys or genitalia. The conversation of text and form presented by “Daily Pills” holds repercussions for feminist discourse and the politics of gender identity in relation to the social role of sex and even reproductive rights.

By Amy Catherine Hulshoff

HANNAH LEIGHTON Art history has always been a discipline that has privileged a euro-centric history of painting in the most classic sense. This type of linear history maintains a hierarchy that resists definitive change over time. But Hannah Leighton is a painter, creating compositions that challenge the silos of artistic disciplines that too often work against the experimental integration of two dimensional, three dimensional, and textile genres. Leighton’s mark making is unique; learned out of necessity for yarn as a medium, she began to use a tufting gun to refine and expand her compositions from small medallions to larger canvases. The shapes that compose the carpeted canvases are abstract, yet they are representative of the connective tissue painters have always used to unify expression with mark making. For Leighton, it is constructive to use a meticulous tool like the tufting gun to build, slowly but deliberately, shapes and lines, that do not blend, but somehow still move and push into and around one another, seeming to shift the surface plane. The application of the medium itself -so carefully

Blue Scope, December 2019 Yarn on monks cloth 55 x 54 x 1 inches

applied- brings order to the chaos of the imagery, illustrating how Leighton engages and articulates an ambiguous space. Unarticulated and ambiguous space conceals itself well when artists use it to paint representations of “real” space. This is what scholars refer to as the middle ground of a painting, most often utilized in landscape paintings; it’s a representation of space that artists cannot articulate, that becomes an aesthetic no-man’s land. “Blue Scope” featured here takes on a soft sculptural quality while simultaneously adhering to compositional elements that remind us of traditional American landscape representations. By focusing in on chaotic elements, Leighton expands the amount of composition devoted to abstract spaces, effectively allowing the viewer to linger on the soft and unstable surface. It is not unimportant to note the parallels between Leighton’s choice of application that uses a “gun”, and the ideological violence (of white masculine settler colonialism) that has historically shielded itself within art and art history. The power of what and who gets represented in our history, and who gets to represent it has always served the benefit of dominant culture in the art market, and that power works best when it is allowed to remain invisible. It is concealed by classic Eurocentric conventions that Leighton, in her deconstructive use of a utilitarian medium, and a gun that fires yard instead of bullets, remarks obtusely on the repressive violence of institutional art making.

By Jackson Larson

DYLAN MCLAUGHLIN Artist Dylan Mclaughlin, born of the Diné people, received his BFA in New Media Art from the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Art & Ecology at the University of New Mexico. His series explores the practice of “land acknowledgement.” As more and more institutions adopt the practice, Mclaughlin was inspired to ask the question: exactly how does one acknowledge land? Mclaughlin uses his background in video and new media arts to translate the invisible aspects of land into a form that can be felt and intuited by humans. Landscape create frequency, subtle vibrations that inform the way plants root, water flows, and tectonic plates shift. However, power-lines and hydro-electric dams also create their own frequencies. Anthropogenic Sources Stimulate Resonance deals with the way sound blends and is obstructed by man-made frequencies. These frequencies are often imperceptible to humans. Mclaughlin makes visible and audible the sounds that landscapes make, translating topographies into musical compositions and scores. In San Juan Generating Station As Score, Power-lines cut across an Ariel photograph of the landscape like bars on sheet music. Anthropogenic Sources Stimulate Resonance renders the sub-audible frequencies of the

Anthropogenic Sources Stimulate Resonance, 2020 Ink on paper with oak frame 24 x 24 x 2 inches

landscape in musical notation. Mclaughlin not only makes a place visible but visceral, translating the ominous hum of the power plant into an audible track. Humans are have altered the landscape beyond comprehension, Mclaughlin allows us to see and listen to the earth and our impact on it.

San Juan Generating Station as Score, 2019 Photograph in a walnut frame, media player, headphones 7 x 18 x 2 inches

By David Saiz

ANDRE RAMOS-WOODARD André Ramos-Woodard was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1994 and is an M.F.A. student in photography at the University of New Mexico (UNM). He received his B.F.A. from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. In the words of Ramos-Woodard, “I make art about my personal identity: my blackness, my queerness, my me-ness . . . I investigate how I see the world and how this world sees me.” His current art practice at UNM still heavily focuses on photography with renewed exploration in the drawing medium, which has unquestionably impacted the artist’s process. Pushing the boundaries of photography, Ramos-Woodard has really began to establish a bold and mindful voice with his work. Ramos-Woodard is not only making work about his identity but the ways society limits him, defines him, judges him, as well as others like him. In an experimental photographic piece called, An Abstraction of 2 niggas (2019), Andre Ramos-Woodard scanned the backsides of two Polaroid images. With each image positioned side-by-side, the abstract black squares starkly contrast the surrounding whiteness of the Polaroid borders and the outlining scanner table. The fixity of time is made known by the ten-digit batch number on the back side of the images, yet the “proper” function of an image remains shrouded in obscurity.

An Abstraction of 2 niggas Digital inkjet print 47-1/2 x 35 inches

The lack of a narrative context steers the piece into a conceptual realm that creates a tension and commentary on the politics of who deserves to be seen and documented. Concurrently, as implied by the title, the segregation between blackness and whiteness comments on the social constructions and maintenance of racism still sustained today. Ramos-Woodard understands the way the photographic medium historically and visually constructs processes of “Othering” for the black and queer communities with which he readily self-identifies. Ramos-Woodard brings in a history of photography associated with the rise of the amateur photographer who, now with the twentieth-century Polaroid, has unmediated access for self-representation and documentation of everyday life. Polaroid was marketed to and for white, suburban, middle-class families as the “world’s simplest [and most affordable] camera” that opened up new possibilities to express personal and private realties. Captured within an intimate three-by-three square, a Polaroid was a direct, non-esoteric artistic process that could be instantly created and easily hidden. It is unknown what is on the front side of the Polaroids in Ramos-Woodard’s piece, which create a tension and frustration. What was photographed on these images that the artist does not want us to know about? Is it the artist? Is it a random found image? Is it a queer, intimate moment? Rather than seeing what is on the images to judge for ourselves, we are presented with an abstract blackness. The blackness signifies the way black people are discriminately categorized, reductively boxed in, and readily dismissed in our society based on skin color. Ramos-Woodard is commenting on the ways race, or racism, shrouds and limits individuality.

By Amy Catherine Hulshoff

ROBBIE SUGG It is not common for a capitalist society built on the misplaced values of consumer culture to spend much time, if any, taking into consideration those communities deemed economically ineffectual. It is not surprising then, when unsheltered people intersect with unwelcoming classist communities, that the attention paid is not unlike our attention given to other disposable entities of consumer culture. Robbie Sugg is no stranger to our society’s disturbing ability to quarantine that which we deem disposable, attempting to keep homeless people and families out of sight and therefore out of mind. But with local and national governments denying access to living wages and affordable housing, real estate continues to rise out of reach for lower income and impoverished people and the population of houseless people rises exponentially each year. While living in California, in a place now known as “Silicon Valley”, Sugg’s daily commute involved walking through the margins of the largest

Bed Collograph on paper with curb fragments 6 x 52 x 36 inches

tent city in the United States. A vernacular of place had become clear. One of the most ubiquitous materials to float between class systems is cardboard. Cardboard is a medium specifically designed to contain goods of greater value than itself. Once emptied of its valuable contents, it is discarded or left to the elements. Insidiously, this is how neoliberal capitalist economies treat people, whether its agents intend to or not– once someone is deemed unable to produce wealth for others, they are similarly discarded. Cardboard’s cheapness and ubiquity is what makes it particularly useful to those who live on the margins– repurposed as shelter, cardboard takes on performative potential as “home” redefined. Like the print “Bed” featured here, Sugg uses found sections of discarded cardboard boxes used for bedding, making a direct impression using the existing texture and patterns found in the corrugation of the box. The image created, like a thumbprint, becomes indexical evidence of a person’s existence, and of an effort to survive in spite of extreme discomfort, poor health, and hostile infrastructure. The image renders visible what we are constantly trying to make invisible. The imprint, framed and exhibited in the gallery space, intersects with two different economic vocabularies (what we quantify as the haves, and the have-nots) requiring of the viewer more than just the cursory glance. The viewer is not compelled to avoid eye contact but is encouraged instead to negotiate what we are seeing. It should not be such a stretch that we can understand an iconography of comfort and of discomfort, of security and of precarity, despite how abstracted it has become from our expectations.

By David Saiz

MARTÍN WANNAM Martín Wannam was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala in 1992 and will be completing his M.F.A. in Photography at the University of New Mexico in the summer of 2020. Wannam has exhibited extensively, works as a teaching assistant at the university, and will be hosting La Eterna Resistencia, his thesis exhibition, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Wannam’s art practice extends beyond photography and has evolved into mixed-media processes incorporating sculpture, installation, performance, textiles, and cast-molding. The literal, symbolic, and ideological context of place for Martín Wannam, a Guatemalan-born, queer, brown artist, reflect an urgency in his art practice that grapples with the (in)visibility, (in)justice, and (de)valuation of his existence in Guatemala. In Wannam’s performance piece, Ser Hueco en mi País (2019), the artist is positioned in the center of Guatemala City’s Plaza Mayor de la Constitución. As Wannam hastily walked into view,

he placed down a portable silver CD player. The artist obediently stood at attention with his right hand over his heart, as the national anthem of Guatemala loudly played. The national flag, cropped out from the video, soared above the artist’s head with the base of the flag pole visible to the left of the image plane. We can see trees, cars, passersby, and buildings, such as the National Palace, in the background. As the song continued to play, Wannam’s stillness was momentarily broken when he removed his white sleeveless shirt and dropped it to the ground, which prompted an anonymous man to enter the scene. Now, peering over the shoulder of Wannam, the camera narrowed in on the man who is armed with a scalpel and rapidly carved the homophobic word, “HUECO,” into the artist’s brown flesh. Unreactive to the violent and mutilating act, Wannam’s passivity in this moment speaks to the helplessness of queer brown bodies within a national system that overlooks hate rhetoric and crimes, and condones the targeting and dehumanizing of poor, brown, and LGBTQ communities in Guatemala. In this moment and place, the Plaza Mayor and Wannam’s body function as site and material. The plaza is a literal manifestation of the colonialist institutions that uphold moralistic, conservative, hetero-normative, patriarchal, and classist hierarchies. Wannam’s body enters the plaza, a symbol of Guatemala’s national “liberty,” as an intrusive entity and a site of bounded freedom. Wannam’s queer brown body becomes the subjugated subject that falls prey to the systems of culture and knowledge production that work to obscure his identity. The violent act of labeling reflects historical violence against LGBTQ bodies conceptualized outside “the center” (the plaza itself is known as the “center of all Guatemala”), with the nation of Guatemala now clearly operating as the violent aggressor.

Ser hueco en mi pais, 2019 Performance art (documentation)

By Jackson Larson

ALEK ZUNIGA DE DÓCHAS Alek De Dóchas attended Pacific Northwest College of Art (Oregon) and Boise State University (Idaho), graduating with a BFA in Visual Art in the Spring of 2018. De Dóchas is currently a graduate candidate in the University of New Mexico’s MFA Art & Ecology Program. De Dóchas is inspired by horror, science fiction, erotica, and queer culture, and uses these sensibilities to explore the topic of ecological degradation. In Greek mythology, Dryads are mythical nymph-like beings who inhabit the forest. In the piece, Dryad Encased #3, de Dóchas offers his own take on the dryad. De Dóchas asks what nature spirits might look like today in light of the devastation done to the planet. De Dóchas personifies the earth’s torment as a Nosferatu-like dryad, a skeletal figure rendered in beeswax, earth, and ash. Layers of organic sediment cake the surface as if this figure had been freshly exhumed in some post-apocolyptic future. As if Mother Nature herself were simply another casualty of environmental cataclysm. Mud splatter over the figure’s mouth gives the sensation of a primal scream, or regurgitation. De Dóchas often works with themes of overfeeding and regurgitation, drawing parallels between the exploitation of our bodies and the earth’s resources. De Dóchas also finds parallels with environmental social practice and LGTBQ+ issues. The Dryad is both a means of exploring difficult to grasp environmental consequences, as well as de Dóchas’ own identity as a queer Latinx artist.

Dryad Encased #3, 2019 Beeswax, clay, charcoal, pastel on canvas 48 x 30 x 2 inches