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‘Mirror’ on 20 years of art: National Hispanic Cultural Center museum reopens with retrospective exhibit

Goldie Garcias Guadalupes Chooe Shoe (2004), paper, glitter, sequins, beads, tin, rhinestones, fabric and resin on leather shoe. 6 x 3 3/16 x 10 in. (Courtesy of Addison Doty)

Twenty years.

That’s the anniversary that the National Hispanic Cultural Center is celebrating; it opened on Oct. 21, 2000.

The pandemic hindered many of the center’s plans to celebrate, although it’s not too late.

The NHCC Art Museum is reopening this Friday, May 14, with the exhibit “Mira Mira On the Wall: Reflecting on 20 Years of NHCC Exhibitions.”

The art museum had been closed to the public since mid-February after a small flood. During its 20 years of existence, the art museum has hosted 70 exhibits.

Jadira Gurulé took the helm of curating the exhibit for the public.

“It was intended to be our 20th anniversary, and this is a good time to do a retrospective of where we are,” Gurulé says. “As a new curator at the center, it was a great way for me to see the work of the center. The public opening was postponed, but we were able to do a virtual exhibit. With the art museum opening again, visitors will get to see the artwork in person again.”

Gurulé says the exhibit examines the NHCC’s impact on the permanent collection and the importance of the stories that have been told and celebrates the artists who have helped shape the identity of the museum over the years.

She says these exhibitions have worked to expand a collective understanding of American art and identity through the lens of Hispanic, Chicana/o, Latinx, and Latin American creative expression.

“This exhibition is one way of holding up a mirror to the museum, allowing staff, artists, volunteers, visitors, donors, partners and community members to examine where the museum has been and its changes over time,” Gurulé says. “The exhibition features artworks that comprise the permanent collection, presenting them in a new light connected to the larger framework of the museum’s historical trajectory and future vision.”

Tey Marianna Nunn, visual arts director and chief curator, has been at the NHCC for nearly its entire existence.

She says the art museum exists to support artists, their creations and their stories.

“Our mission to collect, interpret, research, and exhibit the works of the entire Hispanic and Latino diaspora is large and all encompassing,” Nunn says. “NHCC Art Museum Staff are dedicated to making a difference in social justice, equity and inclusion. No other cultural institution has a mission so broad and deep, touching upon so many countries, communities and identities. Our intent in addressing this mission is to ensure all artists, from those right here in the Barelas community of Albuquerque, to those creating visual works in Latin America and Spain, are treated with equal respect and significance and inserted into local, national, and global art history so that there is an accurate representation of their artistic contributions.”

Nunn says the art museum has exhibited the works of Hispanic, Hispano, Indigenous, Chicano, Chicanx, American, Afro American, Latino, Latinx and Latin American artists throughout the United States.

“We have also celebrated the visual production of Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, México, Perú, Brasil, Spain and the United States,” Nunn says. “Still, we’ve only covered a small portion of our mission, and we are excited to feature more communities and countries in the future.”

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