Grand reopening of university art museum showcases blacks, natives and people of color
By Mike Cook
The exhibition “Four Sites of Return: Ritual, Remembrance, Reparation & Reclamation” by artist Nikesha Breeze and “Remembered Landscapes: The Sacred Space of Home” by artist Jackie Mitchell Edwards will be presented during the museum’s grand reopening of university art. at New Mexico State University, said UAM director Marisa Sage.
Exhibits open at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, January 21, 2022 at UAM, Devasthali Hall, 1308 University Ave. (where the university intersects with Solano Drive) “with a plethora of events both on opening night, during opening weekend and more over the nearly two months that the show is on view,” Sage said.
“Both installations feature New Mexico-based Black, Indigenous, and Color (BIPOC) artists who engage in real and imaginary research of black ancestral lands and futures through the creation of projects that include acts of research, of resilience, resistance gathering and ritual, ”Sage said.
“The ‘Stages of Tectonic Blackness: Blackdom’ project, a collaborative work of Nikesha Breeze, Miles Tokunow and Lazarus Letcher,” said Sage. It will be performed on opening night “in and around their multimedia installation and a two-channel film that features long-lasting dance and lengthened mourning rituals for black bodies that were originally performed. on the ruins of Blackdom, New Mexico, ”Sage said. .
“Founded in 1902 (in Chaves County, about 18 miles south of Roswell) and abandoned in the mid-1920s, Blackdom was created as a ‘black utopia’ focused on black freedom, land stewardship. and education, ”Sage said. “As part of this work, Breeze, a direct descendant of Blackdom, worked with UAM staff to research, find and interview other descendants of Blackdom scattered across the United States. The recorded oral histories will be integrated into the final interactive installation that will be presented during the opening of the UAM exhibition of Breeze.
“Remembered Landscapes: The Sacred Space of Home, a multimedia installation” by Las Cruces artist Mitchell Edwards, “reveals a long poetic search for home and healing through material and spiritual relationships with nature and landscape”, Sage said. This exhibition will take place in the Mullennix Bridge gallery at UAM and will remain on view until March 5.
“This new body of work by Mitchell Edwards was inspired by artist Breeze’s 2020 appeal to BIPOC artists to create metaphorical tools,” Sage said. “Hand Tools of Resilience,” an international juryed exhibition, “invited artists to examine the conscious and unconscious tools that BIPOC has created to survive, thrive and build within oppressive and abusive systems. Breeze’s Call sparked further and more focused research into the power of ritual objects within Mitchell Edwards’ larger practice and the results can be seen in this powerful installation. Mitchell Edwards’ own journey as a black woman in the African diaspora (a term that refers to the descendants of Africans shipped to the Americas via the Atlantic slave trade) centers on the primacy of the study of nature and of ‘other spiritual traditions.
Like Breeze, Mitchell Edwards “uses ritual and remembrance when creating talismanic healing objects that protect and guide the return to their ancestral home,” Sage said. “This immersive installation includes abstract paintings, altars, collages, assemblages, talismans and amulets. Crystals and minerals, bones, shells, seeds and roots of desert trees form an archive and landscape of materials used in rituals and presented to viewers by Mitchell Edwards as sacred objects that create and house his ancestral home. Mitchell Edwards’ ritual objects connect her to an ancient history defined by strength, beauty, resilience and spiritual transcendence passed down from generation to generation across the African Diaspora, ”said Sage.
The themes of resilience, vulnerability, community and intimacy will be explored further through the UAM’s exhibition “Four sites of return: ritual, remembrance, reparation and recovery” which takes place in the Contemporary Gallery and Bunny Conlon Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery, Sage said.
“To further support the exhibits, a full suite of programs will be available to the public, including performances, panels and three OutsmART educational programs led by artists and associated collaborators,” Sage said.
“The Colored Museum” by George C. Wolfe will be performed by The Be Group at 7 pm on Friday February 4 and 11 at UAM. There is no charge to attend. The play debuted in 1986 in New Jersey and was subsequently performed in New York and London. Its production Las Cruces will be directed by Tiffany and Christopher Brooks and will feature “11 satirical ‘exhibits’ of African American culture, from the depths of the Celebrity Slave Ship to the rotating heights of Harlem.”
Visit uam.nmsu.edu/nikeshabreeze, uam.nmsu.edu/rememberedlandscapes/ and