Renowned women artists to be featured at New Mexico Museum of Art exhibition

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Courtesy of the artist and the Garth Greenan Gallery. Heard Museum Collection. Photograph by Craig Smith.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The contributions of women artists is set to be celebrated in New Mexico.

The New Mexico Museum of Art (NMMOA) announced an exhibition featuring three women artists on Friday.

“Poetic Justice: Judith F. Baca, Mildred Howard, and Jaune Quick-to-See-Smith” showcases the formal and thematic coalescence of the three artists and opens on October 9, 2021.

The exhibition celebrates the careers of the women whose commitment to their practice was matched by their voracity for cultural and social equity. 

“All of these three incredible women are accomplished and awarded as both visual artists, educators, and activists,” said Merry Scully, exhibition curator. 

A few of the influences on the artists include jazz music, modernism, and muralism, as well as participation in civic engagement.

The women’s work draws upon experiences in student organizing, the women’s movement, and Native self-determination.

The artists developed sophisticated iconography using text and collage to underscore issues on political and personal levels. 

“Their works engage issues that are local and global, addressing social priorities, and their impact on communities. The title of the exhibition is derived from the literary device in which moral persistence is ultimately rewarded over unprincipled decisions and actions. The durational component implied in the phrase reflects the decades that Judith F. Baca, Mildred Howard, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith have spent creating work that amplifies voice and concerns often considered on the periphery,” said Scully.

The three artists produced fully mature work during the 1990s that exemplified a moment in which identity politics and multiculturalism made their way into mainstream American art institutions. 

“Poetic Justice” includes major projects and select series created over the last 30 years by each artist, as well as three new works on exhibit for the first time:

  • Baca’s Paletas de la Frontera
  • Howard’s installation The Time and Space of Now and Square Meal

Howard’s installation and Baca’s paletas carts were both produced with funding from the NMMOA.

Howard isa fixture of the Bay Area art world known for large-scale sculptural installations, public artworks, and assemblage structures. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and has also been commissioned for many public art works. 

Baca trained at Siquieros in Cuernavaca, Mexico where she worked with students of acclaimed muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. Siqueiros created the “tres grandes” of the Mexican mural movement with Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco. The influence of tres grandes can be seen in Baca’s work through the use of art as a method of documenting history.

Baca’s most famous work, the Great Wall of Los Angeles, shares a multicultural historical narrative of LA from prehistory through the 1950s.

Quick-to-See-Smith is a New Mexico-based artist and a Salish member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation, Montana. She works across media that include painting, drawing, collage, and printmaking. Smith’s works in the exhibition include large-scale paintings and a series of prints.

Smith’s works are complex abstracts that confront social and cultural issues.

“Considered together, the work of the three artists offers a provocative examination of art’s power to critique political and social ills, while also insisting on the importance of art and artists in the social discourse,” said NMMOA Executive Director Dr. Mark White. “In this respect, ‘Poetic Justice’ affirms the New Mexico Museum of Art’s mission to ‘work with art and artists to explore the human experience, new ideas, and diverse cultures.’”

A public reception will be held for the exhibition by the Women’s Board of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation on Friday, October 15, 2021 from 5pm to 7pm.

A community day with free museum admission will be held on Saturday, October 16, 2021. 

For more information on women in the arts, click here; for our complete coverage of New Mexico, click here.

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