Inaugural exhibition at Vladem Contemporary focuses on New Mexico light

The New Mexico Museum of Art (NMMOA) Vladem Contemporary debuts its inaugural exhibition, Shadow and Light, opening Saturday, September 23, 2023, and running through May 28, 2024. This exhibition plays upon the famed New Mexico light which has attracted artists and photographers from all corners of the world to this area for centuries. 

Shadow and Light demonstrates one of the original notions behind the founding of NMMOA in the early 20th century, the belief that the impact of the arts is far greater than simple replication and illustration. The impact is the understanding and enjoyment of art as well as the exploration of human experience, new ideas, and diverse cultures.  

While the light of New Mexico is commonly associated with representational landscape paintings, the West has also nurtured and attracted artists who expressed more than mere naturalistic representation in their artwork. These artists use experimental styles and techniques often maximizing the atmospheric quality and vast stretches of sky and horizon, not to mention making references and connections to honor ancient Indigenous civilizations who have called this land home for hundreds of years. 

 “New Mexico has inspired artists to seek new approaches to the representation of its vast spaces and distinctive light, especially in recent decades when new materials and technologies offered alternatives to traditional media,” Mark White, executive director of NMMOA said. “Shadow and Light explores in part how those new techniques allowed artists to interpret their emotional, psychological, or spiritual experiences of the Southwest.” 

Key members of the Transcendental Painting Group (TPG) and acclaimed New Mexico artists Emil Bisttram and Florence Miller Pierce are at the start of an arc that unfolds to reinforce the relationship between the work NMMOA has always supported and trends in contemporary art practice and art history. Connections are drawn between the nonphysical realms the TPG aspired to, the perceptual experience of the light and space movement, physical engagement of early land art, and contemporary projects like the Indigenous Futurism of Cochiti artist Virgil Ortiz.  

 “Shadow and Light examines artworks with an eye towards the West and Southwest, and the desire for a visual experience that could convey more than theory,” Katie Doyle, assistant curator for NMMOA, said.  

Shadow and Light will fill two galleries at Vladem Contemporary with an array of art created from the mid-20th century through the present day featuring artists with regional, national, and international reputations including Larry Bell, Emil Bisttram, Lee Bul, Judy Chicago, Ron Cooper, James Drake, Angela Ellsworth, Gloria Graham, Harmony Hammond, Nancy Holt, Jennifer Joseph, Agnes Martin, Florence Miller Pierce, Virgil Ortiz, J P 제피 (formerly Jen Pack), Helen Pashgian, Charles Ross, Susan York, Leo Villareal, and Erika Wanenmacher. 

About New Mexico Museum of Art   

New Mexico Museum of Art is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. Programs and exhibits are supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and its donors.

The mission of the Museum of Art is to create authentic experiences that foster a deeper understanding and enjoyment of art throughout our state. With a collection of more than 20,000 pieces of work, the museum brings the art of the world to New Mexico and the art of New Mexico to the world.   

About New Mexico Museum of Art Vladem Contemporary

NMMOA Vladem Contemporary is a newly reimagined venue to showcase and house contemporary art from the collection of the Museum of New Mexico. Often large in scale and complex in materials, current art making practices require expanded solutions for display and storage.

Through a creative and ambitious adaptive reuse renovation by DNCA + StudioGP of the former NM State Archives building (which was previously the Ilfeld Warehouse) located in the Santa Fe Railyard District, the Museum now has the capacity and the means to present contemporary art since 1970. Various programs designed to engage directly with artists aim to deepen the connection with art and artists living and working in the state of New Mexico. 

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