Whether they’re gelatin silver prints or daguerreotypes, there’s one thing that most photographs have in common: they’re flat. For a new group exhibition at form & concept, eleven artists from across the United States shatter this convention by applying craft media to photography—and vice versa. Hand/Eye presents images with the texture and volume of sculptures, vaulting a medium that’s often trapped behind glass into the viewer’s sphere. The artworks in the show incorporate a wide array of materials, including fiber, cast glass, micaceous clay and human hair. Call it super-alternative process photography.
Above: David Samuel Stern, Nouri, photographic prints on translucent vellum physically cut and woven together.
We’re excited to announce that Kylee Aragon is our new Administrative Coordinator! Kylee was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM. She received a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico. Kylee began her gallery experience at Tamarind Institute, where she developed a deep love for works on paper. While Kylee is not a printmaker she is a self-proclaimed print nerd who enjoys speaking in great detail about process, paper, and the print market. She is excited to bring her passion for art to form & concept.
This Saturday, Matthew Mullins hosts an artist talk for his solo exhibition The Sun In Our Bones. When Mullins began working on the monumental showlast year, he was shooting for the stars. “I thought about this spectrum of very earthy and grounded to the cosmos,” says Mullins. “How do you encompass that staggering span, and pull someone all the way through it?” The exhibition is on view through November 17, 2018. Scroll down to see selections from the exhibition, and click here to browse all of the artwork online.
Tonight, Santa Fe artist Matthew Mullins presents his solo exhibition The Sun in Our Bones. Mullins’s work is inspired by the intrinsic links between humans and the natural world. He has a lot of ground to cover, which is why we’ve dedicated our entire ground floor to showcase his paintings, photographs, and sculptures.
We visited Matthew’s studio to talk about his process and inspiration for his show. “I want people to look beyond what’s right in front of us,” says Mullins. “And make them aware of our own cosmic origins.” Check out the video above to learn more about his artistic practice.
Mullins thinks of the patterns as a representation of the human experience of being out there nature.
“If you’re in one of these places or in nature just staring off into the trees, I feel the mind kind of wanders a little bit,” he said. “Like you’re looking at the landscape, but other thoughts come in. You lose it, and then you see the landscape.
“So I like the representational qualities with the landscape, as well as the abstract patterns. The brain can go from experiencing the depth and light of the landscape to the flatness and rhythm of the abstraction. The brain toddles back and forth, and it creates a more dynamic experience that’s kind of uncontrollable.”
An award-winning professional artist who moved to Santa Fe in 2011, Mullins has been working on the pieces in “The Sun in our Bodies” for the past two years.
“My work draws upon my fascination with visual perception and the forces of nature,” he says. “By integrating human-made constructs with natural environments, I’m composing a relationship that is often deconstructed or forgotten in today’s society.
The press doesn’t stop there! The Santa Fe Reporter brought Mullins in for their 3 Questions Column. Here’s what he had to say about The Sun in Our Bone’s overarching theme:
The theme is trying to make art that can connect the viewer with nature and the cosmos. A lot of pieces in the show are about how the materials in our own body are made of the stars, and how the elements that give us life and the ability to have consciousness come from the stars. I’m really trying to drive that point home. The title of the show, The Sun in Our Bones, comes from a poem by poem by Nayyirah Waheed, and really conveys what I’m trying to do with art.
The Sun in Our Bones opens September 28th at 5 PM and runs through November 17th. Mullins will conduct an Artist Talk on the 20th of October.
It is a tremendous honor to be able to participate in this opening by the amazing artist, Armond Lara – whose memorial is… breath-taking, but it gives breath as well. This thoughtful remembering is a project — that through creativity raises consciousness — and in the end, is inspired by the promise of strengthening community.
Here in this sovereign landscape, Pueblo elders have said that,“wherever we go, we leave our breath behind us” — aninvocation recognizing those who came before us and how their life force remains with us long after they have gone. In recognizing this life force, we not only illuminate all of the ancestors who lived in this place, but point especially to the life of those living now in the present, as well as to those generations that will follow, inheriting what we leave behind in the future.
In time, drawn to the subject of enslaved Indians as a young scholar, I would immerse myself as a historian in countless archives, reading between the lines of documents, tracing my finger across maps and looking closer at photographs, all complemented by my work as an anthropologist, engaged in many hundreds of conversations set with bread at kitchen tables, revealed upon a walk through alfalfa fields, and shared across miles by telephone and electronic correspondence.
Taking those experiences, connecting them and eventually centering them, the story grew like a forest, one that eventually became a manuscript defended by me to hold a doctoral credential. However, believing that scholarship is most valuable when grounded and applied in the world, I left academia, and yet through my role as a public historian and anthropologist, indeed, because of it, the story only deepened further, to this day.
So when I talk about consciousness now, I am not only referring to the work I have done as a scholar and public historian for over two decades, but a commitment to raising consciousness on the ground, locally, in the minds of people in our region and nation, particularly in the minds of those who have not yet recognized that this story, however painful, is also one of complex beauty. This is no easy task.
The eyes of all of the descendants of those indigenous ancestors continue to awaken the possibility of remembering with each new birth of a New Mexican. Telling this Story—in whatever form that telling comes— is about how individual and collective lives are remembered, how a community takes the memories, stories and traditions of what has been passed down from one generation to the next, and how it reimagines itself, now in the present and into the future. We are the herd of buffalo that rises.
Dr. Rael-Gálvez holds a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he completed an award-winning dissertation, “Identifying Captivity and Capturing Identity: Narratives of American Indian Slavery.” Formerly the State Historian of New Mexico, Executive Director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and Senior Vice President at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Dr. Rael-Gálvez currently is a writer and the founding principal of Creative Strategies 360°.
Matthew Mullins is an avid hiker and distance runner, and lately he’s been leaving artwork behind on his adventures through New Mexico’s high desert. He’ll install pinhole cameras in remote areas, note their coordinates, and return for them weeks or months later. The final images reflect the shifting path of the sun and other natural phenomena—that is, if Mullins can retrieve them. Weather and wild animals have destroyed several cameras, and others have vanished without a trace. Despite the occasional lost artwork, Mullins says his far-flung creative process is worth the risk.
“With these pinhole photos, I’m presenting different ways to look at nature and different ways of seeing time,” the Santa Fe artist explains. “The incredibly long exposures require the cameras to be in remote locations, which always involves leaps of faith.” In his solo exhibition The Sun in Our Bones, opening Friday, September 28 from 5 to 7 pm, Mullins presents photographs, paintings and sculptures inspired by the intrinsic links between humans and the natural world. An artist talk follows on October 20, and a closing reception takes place on November 17.
When Mullins began working on The Sun in Our Bones last year, he was shooting for the stars. “I thought about making a series of artwork within a spectrum of very earthy and grounded to cosmic. I wanted to paint nature and natural processes from the subatomic world to the stars” says Mullins. “How do you encompass that staggering span, and pull someone all the way through it?” The Santa Fe artist has been working on a series of highly unconventional landscape paintings since moving to New Mexico from Berkeley, California in 2011. The works depict scenes from nature, often in a monochrome palette, with geometric patterns inspired by human-made designs cutting through them. A concurrent series of watercolor paintings features mandala patterns dotted with countless stars.
Branching out even further, the artist started experimenting with several new mediums. He gathered dry, twisted pieces of juniper wood on his outdoor excursions and brought them back to his studio, cleaning them, burnishing them and covering them with shiny graphite to accentuate their lines and textures. Through the pinhole photography series, Mullins found a method for depicting a temporal experience of landscape. “I really wanted to track time in a different way and also show the movement of our planet around the sun. I didn’t think I could really get that in my paintings,” he says. “I love the idea of having these pinhole cameras out in the world. They’re working right now, so I’m making art 24/7.”
The Sun in Our Bones will span form & concept’s ground floor, the second show in the gallery’s two-year history (after Thais Mather’s Reckless Abandon in November 2017) to devote an entire level to a single artist. The title of the exhibition is a reference to an unconventional material Mullins has incorporated into some of his cosmic paintings: pigment made from burnt animal bones. “The calcium and phosphorous in those bones, and our own, are made in stars,” Mullins says. “It’s truly all connected.”
For Mullins, the exhibition is a culmination of 15 years of work as a professional artist. Originally from the Bay Area of California, he received his MFA from University of California Berkeley. There, he began his career with his Artifacts & Archives paintings, a series of photo-realistic watercolors that replicate the archival environments and materials he had access to during his graduate studies.
Mullins received the prestigious Eisner Prize for Visual Art in 2010, a year before relocating to New Mexico. Following the move, he was inspired by the desolate, sweeping landscapes of the Desert Southwest to shift from an illustrative style to semi-abstraction. Through his latest work, Mullins has sought to show the connection between human consciousness and the natural world. “Humans are part of the natural world,” says Mullins. “But we often become so focused on our individuality that we lose track of that greater connection. My work is about reintegrating with nature and finding unity in that relationship.”
From Spanish and Mexican silversmiths to Navajo and Zuni jewelry makers, New Mexico has gained a reputation for finely wrought baubles. But the blending of cultures and their traditions didn’t stop there. By tracking the evolution from the 1870s to the 21st century, visitors to the Albuquerque Museum exhibit, American Jewelry from New Mexico can essentially trace the history of the state. “There is so much jewelry being created here that’s never been shown as New Mexico jewelry,” says curator Andrew Connors.
Other pieces lean more toward the outrageous. Santa Fe artist Debra Baxter created a set of silver and crystal brass knuckles from quartz and silver-plated bronze. The internationally known artist recently completed a show at Washington, D.C.’s Renwick Gallery. “It’s much more of a conceptual piece,” Connors said. “It’s about power and authority and the idea of protecting yourself.”
More recently, Grace Parazzoli covered the exhibition for Santa Fe New Mexican and also mentioned Debra’s work:
The modern pieces, like those earliest in the exhibition, are materially innovative, from Debra Baxter’s brass knuckles crowned with aqua aura quartz (2017) to Kristin Diener’s New Orleans and Alabama/Mississippi Gulf Coast Love Story: Loss and Lament: Fertility Reliquary II (2005), a reliquary that sits upon a mannequin as though it were a chastity belt. The piece’s 23 materials include toy scissors, a Route 66 guitar pick, a candy wrapper, and vintage nude photographs. (Baxter and Diener live in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, respectively; both are from the Midwest.)
Opening weekend for Armond Lara‘s Flying Blue Buffalo installation has arrived! On Thursday, August 16 at 5:30 pm, we’re hosting a preview of the installation. Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez, a Santa Fe-based scholar who is writing a book on the topic of Native slavery, will speak in our atrium under the installation. This Friday, August 17 from 5 to 7 pm, Lara will appear at form & concept for the official opening reception of the piece. In addition to the installation, a number of Lara’s artworks are on view in the gallery, along with an exhibition of Native teen artists. The final event of the weekend is an artist talk on Saturday, August 18 from 2 to 3 pm, which will take the form of a conversation between Lara and his collaborator Joseph Riggs.
It’s safe to say that the Brea Foley Art Program is one-of-a-kind. The initiative, by Washington, D.C. and Arizona-based nonprofit Soul of Nations, vaults teens from Southwestern Indigenous communities into the upper echelons of the art world. This year’s program had hundreds of applicants and 15 finalists, all between the ages of 15 and 18. Three winners jetted off to Manhattan for a residency at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Later in the summer, all of the finalists will exhibit together at form & concept gallery in Santa Fe, on the weekend of this year’s SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market.
The Soul of Nations group exhibition opens with a reception on Friday, August 17, 5 to 7 pm, followed by an artist talk on Saturday, August 18, 1 to 2 pm. Inspired by the theme “Honor the Earth,” the participants offer fresh perspectives on Indigenous identity, contemporary culture and the state of the environment.
“Art is its own language,” says Ernest Hill, cofounder of Soul of Nations. “People might not want to hear what you have to say about your own plight, but you could look at a canvas and that could ignite a discussion.” That was the founding philosophy for Soul of Nations, which Hill dreamed up with his childhood friend Brea Foley. Hill and Foley grew up in Denver but had strong connections to Navajo Nation in the Four Corners region: Foley’s heritage was Navajo, and Hill’s family conducted missionary work on Native reservations when he was young. They were both interested in addressing the extreme poverty divide between Indigenous communities and the rest of the Southwest.
“There was this drastic disconnect between on-reservation life and off-reservation life,” Hill says. “I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t go back unless I could do something about it.” Foley passed away in 2014 from breast cancer, but Hill carried on their mission and officially incorporated Soul of Nations as a 501(c)3 the following year. The organization has a broad charter, seeking to uplift the vast numbers of displaced Indigenous communities throughout the Americas.
Hill created the Brea Foley Art Program as a tribute to his late collaborator, with the more targeted mission of providing art world opportunities to Native teens from the Southwest. “At the beginning, we had a focus group and asked students, ‘What are you most interested in doing?’” says Hill. “About 80% of the students said that they were really interested in the arts as a career path. We wanted to show them ways to be successful.”
The Brea Foley Art Program has grown and evolved in the three years since its founding. Hill says awareness of the initiative has grown significantly, with 253 applicants for this year’s program. In addition to the residency at Tisch School of the Arts, this year’s winners—Maiyah King of Albuquerque, Bailey Pete of Gallup, and Christine Garcia of Santa Fe—participated in a special reception at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City. “Last year we did a series of college tours and museum tours, but we wanted to find a school that was dedicated to investing in youth at a larger level,” says Hill. “NYU really stepped up to the plate.”
Hill also wanted to build a bridge to the commercial art world for the program’s participants. That’s how form & concept came into the picture. “It’s a whole new realm for us in terms of education,” says Hill. “We want to teach them how to work with a marketing team, but also how to market yourself in the commercial art scene. Being an artist is like having a sole proprietorship.” All 15 of this year’s finalists will contribute an artwork to the Soul of Nations group exhibition at form & concept. They hail from 11 different tribal communities throughout the Southwest.
Their work will debut at the gallery on the weekend of the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market, which attracts over 100,000 visitors to buy art directly from 1,000 artists who represent more than 200 federally recognized tribes from the U.S. and Canada. The show’s opening reception also features the debut of an art installation by Armond Lara, an internationally renowned artist with Navajo heritage.
Preview with Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez:
Thursday, August 16, 5:30 pm
Opening: Friday, August 17, 5-7 pm Artist Talk: Saturday, August 18, 2-3 pm
This weekend, when Santa Fe artist Armond Lara sends 77 winged buffalo sculptures into the stratosphere of form & concept’s atrium, he’ll fulfill a long-held dream. The Flying Blue Buffalo installation tells the centuries-long story of enslaved Native American children—including Lara’s grandmother. The Pueblo people called these abducted youths “Lost Bluebirds.” Lara combined this symbol with the buffalo to create the Flying Blue Buffalo, a new icon of Indigenous resilience. Listen to Armond Lara’s interview with Spencer Beckwith on KUNM, and learn more at the links below.
Image: Armond Lara, Flying Blue Buffalo installation.
Soul of Nations
Opening: Friday, August 17, 5-7 pm Artist Talk: Saturday, August 18, 1-2 pm
Soul of Nations, a Washington, D.C. and Arizona-based nonprofit that works to uplift Indigenous communities throughout the Americas, presents this juried exhibition of Native teen artists from Southwest reservations. Inspired by the theme “Honor the Earth,” the participants offer fresh perspectives on Indigenous identity, contemporary culture and the state of the environment. The 15 featured artists offer boundary-pushing aesthetic statements from a new generation of Indigenous creatives.
Suspended from the ceiling is a herd of blue buffalo, seventy-five of them, flying on wings. The buffalo tell the story of thousands of Native American children who, from the 17th Century through the 19th, were abducted from their families and enslaved on ranches and in homes across the Southwest. The Flying Blue Buffalo installation is the creation of veteran Santa Fe artist Armond Lara, and it’s on view starting August 17 at the Santa Fe gallery, form & concept.
You can listen to two versions of the radio segment on the KUNM website— one that’s 4 minutes and one’s that 7 minutes. Both stories include this gorgeous quote from Armond:
I decided that all I would see was a cloud of blue. I thought it would be a beautiful presentation. That’s the whole philosophy for Navajo people. Walk In Beauty. It has to be in a beautiful way. It doesn’t have to be ugly, even though it is ugly. We can take the pride and the endurance of still being here. Like the buffalo.
Meanwhile, we’re deep in the installation process for Armond’s show. You can see the grid system we’re using in the photo above, which will support all of the sculptures in the piece. Come see it on opening weekend, August 16-18!