When students return to campus for the Fall semester, a new art installation will greet them at the recently-opened Physics & Astronomy and Interdisciplinary Science (PAÍS) building. During the pandemic, PAÍS became home to a set of colorful paintings in the south entranceway.
All the artworks are by Raymond Jonson (1891-1982). This series of six large murals entitled the “Cycle of Science” was created for the first UNM Library in 1934 with funding from the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The murals depict and are titled respectively, “Astronomy,” “Engineering,” “Chemistry,” “Biology,” “Physics,” and “Mathematics.” All paintings are oil on canvas.
The pieces were installed over two days, June 3 and 4, 2021, and will permanently live in PAÍS.
“PAÍS was selected because of the subject matter relating to the sciences and that the new building had the space to accommodate such large works of art. Also, they are a way to connect the state-of-the-art PAÍS building with the institutional past of UNM,” explained Arif Khan, director of the UNM art museum.
The pieces were professionally photographed on July 16. Due to the protective plexiglass cases, they were photographed at dusk to minimize the glare caused by the natural sunlight.
A didactic panel includes the titles of the pieces, the name of the artist, and their history at UNM.
“Due to their large scale, they have not been on public view all at once since they were removed from the original library. This is an exciting opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and all who visit the PAÍS to view these important works that have been in storage for decades,” said Khan.
An exhibit of Raymond Johnson’s artwork will be displayed in the UNM Art Museum’s Main Gallery from Aug. 31 to Nov. 24, 2021. It is titled “Visionary Modern: Raymond Jonson Trilogies, Cycles, and Portraits”, curated by Mary Statzer.
Jonson’s legacy at The University of New Mexico is threefold: as an educator, a curator and a living modernist mentor around which a strong community of artists was built in Albuquerque. His contributions include more than 600 paintings, drawings, and prints held by the UNM Art Museum, making it the world’s largest repository of Jonson’s work.
Current exhibitions at the UNM art museum include Hindsight/Insight: Reflecting on the Collection and Indelible Ink: Native Women, Printmaking, Collaboration. Check the website for current hours of operation.