As artists pivot from gallery walls to online portals, some bring a breadth and depth to a duality of creation and loss.
Open at the Harwood Art Center (harwoodartcenter.org) through July 24, “Surface: Emerging Artists of New Mexico” focuses on works by seven artists in an immersive collection. The featured artists include Robyn A. Frank, Celine Gordon, Nate Lemuel, MB Ramos, George Richardson, Amy Vensel and Mark Weaver.
The annual show features juried artists who attend professional development workshops. This year, each received a $250 micro grant in support of their practice. Jurists pared the entrants from the usual 14 to better showcase their work online, Harwood chief programs officer Julia Mandeville said.
These painters, designers, printers and photographers create works in everything from textiles to paint to woodblock prints.
Winner of the 2019 Surface Solo Exhibition award, Dante Tsuzuki Betsch stitched beauty from a fractured past with his denim garments.
His testimony to the Japanese internment camps of 1942, the collection features the traditional Japanese mending techniques of Boro and Kintsugi. He lined his designs with ultraviolet printed photos by Dorothea Lange, who documented the camps for the U.S. government. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the order sending 120,000 Japanese Americans into the camps during World War II. The collection explores Betsch’s ancestry through this troubled history.
“He’s exploring his own personal, political and professional lineage through his work,” Mandeville said. “He’s mending what was broken.”
The Harwood exhibition comprises Betsch’s thesis for his University of Michigan BFA degree. His solo show runs concurrently with the emerging artists show on the Harwood’s website.
Winner of the 2020 Surface Solo Exhibition Award, Nate Lemuel creates photographs of indigenous artists in nature. Based out of Shiprock, he says his inspiration comes from fashion, textiles and his fellow indigenous artists. He created Darklisted Photography in 2015 when he photographed local music shows on the Navajo Reservation.
Painter Robyn Frank is a former professional fine art fabricator, making work for world-renowned artists including Takisha Murakami. She moved to New Mexico in 2019 to begin her career as a professional artist. She uses recurring symbols such as a sun or the moon or a path as allegory.
“Robyn uses a transcendental abstract, monochromatic palette,” Mandeville said. “They’re testimonies to change.”
Based in Las Cruces, Amy Vensel defines strict compositional spaces with tape applied to her paintings. She reserves some space for experimentation, building up layers of acrylic polymer with custom-made tools similar to trowels. The work echoes the backlit screens of the digital landscape.
“For many of the artists, this is their first exhibition,” Mandeville said.