The University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts has announced winners of a variety of awards for excellence in the creative arts.
The Donald McRae Award for Outstanding Senior Winners
Donald McRae was Dean of the College of Fine Arts from 1978 to 1986. The award recognizes one outstanding senior student from each department and the IFDM program, and selects one winner from these candidates for the McRae award. Students are selected based on academics, service to the college and university, contributions to the arts, and an interview process. The award has continued to recognize outstanding students with support from the McRae family.
Kira Gone ̶ Department of Art
Kira Gone is a Studio Arts major with a focus in drawing, small-scale metal sculpture, and performance arts. Her work explores femininity and female lived experience through the lens of folklore and often includes the use of mythical archetypes and plant or animal elements. Gone has performed with the Albuquerque-based band Da Terra Meiga and has toured with them in the U.S. and in Galicia, Spain. After graduation, Gone hopes to continue finding new ways to experience and to help connect different artistic communities as they heal from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Isabel Tafoya ̶ Interdisciplinary Arts
Isabel Tafoya grew up on a ranch in northern New Mexico filled with elements of culture needing to be explored: where magic, God and responsibility are intertwined. Who I am is a question requiring continual investigation. Art acts a prism, allowing Isabel to see the many facets of life so that she can make sense of the world around her; it is not a singular lens with a singular answer. Tafoya focuses on who we are internally, where we fit into the world and why day-to-day experience matters. Photography is how she evaluates topics that feel complicated or overwhelming. Her experience in theater and photography allows her to use lighting, costuming, and staging in a way that highlights these mundane moments and feelings in a dramatic, colorful way.
Jenna Lee Ramsay ̶ Department of Theatre & Dance
A goal Ramsay made for herself when she transferred to UNM Fall of 2019 was to be involved as much as possible within the department of theatre and dance. Her favorite project she has worked on was directing the Spring 2020 SCRAP Productions show, Juicy and Delicious. In addition to directing for stage, she enjoys shadow puppetry as well as full-view manipulation puppetry. After graduating, Ramsay wants to work towards starting her own theatre company focused on experimental performance, based on a foundation of love while encouraging genuine human connection.
Stevanna G. Allen ̶ Department of Film & Digital Arts
Stevanna G. Allen is graduating with a BA in Film and Digital Arts' Animation concentration with a designation from the Honors College. Growing up as a military brat, Allen considers the world to be her home. During her time at UNM, she hosted the Film and Digital Arts Virtual Cafe and worked at the FDA Equipment Cage, becoming a familiar face to everyone. Her plans after graduation include working as an animator/lead game designer in the video game industry and developing her own games independently.
Andreas Landstedt ̶ Department of Music
Andreas Landstedt is an aspiring professional pianist completing his undergraduate degree in Piano Performance under Professor Falko Steinbach. He has won several competitions in his home state of New Mexico, performed with the New Mexico Philharmonic, and has studied and performed in festivals in Germany and Italy; he also pursues collaborative efforts through solo and instrumental accompanying, student ensembles, small opera troupes, and the UNM Wind Symphony. Landstedt has maintained a 4.0+ GPA in his time at UNM, and was awarded the honor of Presser Scholar of the UNM Music Department in 2020, prior to his senior year. He will continue studying under Professor Steinbach for the 2021-2022 academic year to achieve the Graduate Performance Certificate at UNM, during which time he will seek opportunities for graduate-level programs in piano performance beginning in the Fall of 2022.
Covington-Rhode Senior Prize Winners Spring 2021
The Covington-Rhode Senior Prize in Art at The University of New Mexico recognizes outstanding achievement of our undergraduate art students during their senior year, to promote professionalism and excellence in the visual arts, and motivate and encourage all art students to achieve their fullest potential throughout their years in the program. It’s a competitive award for graduating seniors earning a degree in Art exhibiting their artwork and participating in a professional evaluation. The Covington-Rhode Prize was established in 2018 by Patricia Covington and Shari Rhode. Dr. Covington earned two degrees, a BA in Art and a BA in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico in 1968.
“Observations of gender interaction around the world inspire my work. I explore ideas of transformation and female sexuality as it existed before judgement and the pressures of societal mores. My personal history touches each piece before I tie it to a greater cultural context through coded color, iconic cartoons, branded imagery and mythological figures. With every material I choose I strive to evoke familiarity and intimacy with the viewer while creating an unexpected openness of emotional space that illuminates the potential for freedom we have today. I make this work to bring the viewer into a space they can feel, to know they have options.” Read about Abbott’s golden snail project here.
“Through my art practice I seek the sublime within the mundane, ironies and paradoxes, the profane and the profound. I hope to disrupt the ways we are accustomed to experiencing the world and suggest that there is opportunity for uplift, transformation, and contemplation in our quotidian existence. I am interested in photography’s ability to subvert our expectations of it. Using the camera, I describe subjects that exist beyond the surfaces depicted. I wish to suggest that our perception of the world is fluid and expansive and surfaces only exist because there is substance below.” Read more about Chrisco here.
Katie Conley is from Charleston, South Carolina. Using personal and historic objects, photographs of home, children, craft supplies, and historic indigo dye processes, she reevaluates her memories of home from an evolving perspective. Surroundings change and people come and go, but the idea of what remains fascinates her. Amidst changes, Conley considers the ways she has been impacted by the places and people left behind. What is salvageable? And what can never be recovered? What stains remain? Conley’s work explores the evolution of our memories and histories — tainted and obscured by the meanings we give them.
“Though currently immersed in the foreign country of the United States, I was inspired by the experiences and influence of her childhood cultural environment while growing up in China. My work in photography, installation, video, and performance art, uses the body as the main subject in exploring traumatic memories, self-identity, mainstream culture, and limitations of language. Utilizing the body throughout different works as canvas, medium, and subject, I explore how these theories can manifest as a tool of expression within the practice of contemporary art in society.”
Sergio Stryker is a visual artist born and raised in Chicago, IL, and now based in Albuquerque, NM. Stryker's practice investigates the politics of image making. He is interested in making work that blurs the line between fact and fiction. Often with a tongue in cheek delivery, he asks his viewer to question the validity of any singular voice in image making. His work often references the history of photography while taking into account the contemporary concerns that surround the medium.
Department of Film & Digital Arts Award Winner Spring 2021
The Gus Blaisdell Memorial Award in Critical and Creative Writing – Beloved faculty member Gus Blaisdell encouraged and appreciated original and incisive prose, and the prize that bears his name is awarded to a student whose writing meets his high standards.
Shannon Shimada ̶ Gus Blaisdell Memorial Award in Critical and Creative Writing
Shannon Shimada is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Digital Arts with an emphasis in Film History and Criticism. Throughout her time at UNM, she has focused her work on intersectionality both on screen and behind the camera, prioritizing issues such as race, gender, and class within the film industry. With her degree, she hopes to continue this work through her writing by expanding the boundaries of film and film engagement towards accessibility, inclusivity, and intersectionality. Although mainly working within critical and creative writing, she engages in a wide variety of artistic mediums and hopes to foster an exchange between them as she moves forward.
Department of Music Award Winners Spring 2021
Theodore Presser Scholarship – The Presser Undergraduate Scholar Award is awarded annually to an outstanding music major at or near the end of his or her junior year. The award is based on merit and achievement and is intended to recognize excellence. This year’s recipient is Megan Gleason.
is currently a junior at UNM. She is majoring in Music Performance, minoring in Communications and Journalism, and pursuing an honors designation. As an out of state student from Las Vegas, Nevada, Gleason traveled to Albuquerque to study flute under Valerie Potter. Gleason has been studying the flute for 10 years and also plays the piccolo. She hopes to set up a private flute studio after graduating. She is currently a member of the UNM Wind Symphony and is flautist for the UNM Canyon Winds Quintet for the last three years. Outside of her music studies, Gleason is the editor-in-chief of the New Mexico Daily Lobo after previously working as the news editor and the culture editor. She is looking forward to a post-pandemic world with in-person music again and is working on her senior flute recital for next year, as well as summer music workshops.
Natalie Bonelli – Outstanding Music Education Student
Though having dropped the accent years back, Bonelli is from Long Island, New York and moved to New Mexico in high school. It was there that she furthered her love for performing and began noticing the art in teaching and interacting with people through music. After committing to UNM, she found a passion in diversity and advocacy within the four walls of a classroom. In teaching for the NM Philharmonic Young Musician Initiative program, Bonelli has premiered inclusive elementary compositions in an effort to expose, educate, and diversify. After graduating, she will continue to teach in New Mexico and bring her cat to every class possible. The support from the educators in the music department is nothing short of magical, and Bonelli was able to find her voice through them. Through 2020, not much has remained certain, but her passion for music education has only strengthened.