Creativity and outside-the-box inspiration is filling the Honors College this semester. 

On April 6, The Honors College said goodbye to its latest Spectra Gallery Exhibition, while also launching the next part of its Discovery Series. 

Discovery Series: Creativity

The Discovery Series was created as a way to invite the public to experience engaged listening, active participation, and thought-building with different sessions focused on community, curiosity, and creativity. 

Barfield presents

The discovery series events model the core values of honors with an aim to foster opportunities for honors students to join as a community,” Honors College Associate Professor Megan Jacobs said. “The Honors College’s Discovery Series aims to foster opportunities for honors students to join as a community through a shared common goal: a love of learning.” 

Each session varies in its format, from workshop to activity-based to lecture-based. The April 6 portion highlighted creativity in honors from Johannes Barfield, a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Honors College, and honors interdisciplinary liberal arts major, Spenser Willden. 

Willden has undertaken a significant range of research and is currently team-teaching an honors course, The Art of Stand Up, with Honors College Lecturer Maria Szasz.  

“It’s been a joy to work with Spenser in the Stand-Up Comedy class this spring. He is incredibly knowledgeable about the subject of stand-up comedy, and he has added so much to every class.  He is also very funny, and he frequently has the entire class in gales of laughter!” Szasz said. 

Willden put his teaching to the test, showcasing the changes in standup over many decades, as well as honoring the large number of comedians the class learns about. Wilden believes there is an important facet of comedy analysis that does not stray too far from analyzing a piece of literature. 

Willden presents

The primary goal of the class is to encourage students to view comedy through a critical lens, reading it in the same way they'd read literature, as an art form that both influences and is influenced by culture at large,” Willden said. “The best part of this process, though, has been senior teaching under Dr. Szasz—this is my sixth semester working with her, and ever since I was a freshman, she has been a constant source of knowledge and support for me as well as other honors students. Getting to work with her in this new capacity has been the highlight of my collegiate career.” 

Barfield explored his sample-based practice, speaking on the challenges of creativity. He brought a unique perspective as an award-winning visual artist who works in a variety of mediums, across the country. His work explored emotions, intertextuality, childhood memories, Black American art and culture and appropriation. 

“To be original is to be in denial,” Barfield said. "This is a quote I use to motivate my practice and to keep pushing forward. It's just a real reminder as to how all of these things we come into contact with influence us."

As a strong believer in the fact that his computer is his studio, Barfield feels all creative possibilities are limitless. He is also developing a video game called "Ancestral Plane," a third-person action-adventure game where a character returns stolen items to the communities they belong in.

Spectra Gallery Closing Ceremony

Following the Discovery Series, The Spectra Gallery welcomed the public to gaze at the 'Listen' exhibition one final evening. The Honors student exhibition had been displaying the works of students in the Spectra Gallery since Jan. 23.  

The undergraduate art exhibitions at The University of New Mexico Honors College Spectra Gallery are a testament to the immense talent and dedication of our students,” Honors College Associate Professor Amaris Feland Ketcham said. “These showcases not only celebrate their achievements but also contribute to the vibrant cultural landscape of the university, fostering a sense of pride and belonging among all members of the UNM community.” 

Those artists included Lourdes Cazarez, Raychel Kool, Austin Nguyen, Ihunanya Okechukwu, John Scott, Alex Smith, and Reyes Reynaga, some of who were there at the ceremony. Each student spoke with guests on their work and what it represented to them. 

Spectra artwork

Providing a space in the Spectra Gallery to showcase undergraduate art not only cultivates a thriving artistic community but also fosters interdisciplinary thinking, which is essential to our mission of producing well-rounded, innovative leaders.” Ketcham said, “The opportunity to exhibit their artwork on campus in the Spectra Gallery is invaluable for our undergraduate students. It allows them to share their unique perspectives, engage with their peers, and receive feedback from the broader UNM community.”

The final portion of the Discovery Series will be on April 20, from 5 to 7 p.m. The community-centric event will feature a documentary film screening of students' environmental films and a panel discussion with environmental advocates. 

The next exhibition will be up at the end of April, featuring the work of two Honors students. This will be up through the end of May, followed by a new show over the summer, and a solo show by a nationally renowned artist in the fall.  

If you ever want to see your art on display, applications for each show can be submitted through the Honors College Submission Portal.