Student artists from the Land Arts of the American West program will present an exhibition called “these systems are not static,” a collection of collaborative and individual artistic responses to a six-week road trip that took them to places in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.

The group met with indigenous activists and other environmental stewards to hear their stories and learn about the work they are doing pertaining to oil and gas development, seed sovereignty, forest ecology, and watershed restoration. This exhibition is a reflection on these experiences through performance, film, sound, sculpture, and more.

The trip was part of an art studio class for undergrads, grads, and non-degree students, explained Hyunju Blemel, who plans to graduate in 2020 with a liberal arts degree. Packing their gear into a 15-passenger van, they hit the road, stopping at Muley Point in Utah, the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona, and the Greater Chaco Region, the village of Anton Chico, the Valle Vidal, and the Gila National Forest in New Mexico.

these systems are not static
Opening reception Friday, Dec. 6, from 5-7 p.m. at John Sommers Gallery

“The trip gives you time and space to collaborate and create art because we spent six weeks in six different environments. Each person responded differently based on their background. We have a lot of print-making students so they responded with prints. My background is photography so I’m doing a photography installation. One is studying sculpture and one fine art photography,” she said.

"It was a great learning experience and to curate a show in the end makes it worthwhile,” Blemel said. Participating students are: 

  • Blemel – undergrad, photography
  • Chelsea Call – non-degree student, photography
  • Nancy Collins – international exchange student, sculpture
  • Wheeler Fink – undergrad, mixed media
  • Jake Gatehouse – international exchange student, photography
  • Juana Estrada Hernandez – graduate student, printmaking 
  • Katie Keaveny – undergrad, printmaking 
  • Ben Schoenburg – graduate student, printmaking 
  • Mark Williams – graduate student, printmaking.

The purpose of the Land Arts of the American West program is “to inspire and support environmentally and socially engaged art practices through field-based bioregional teaching, collective learning, interdisciplinary research, community collaboration, and creative forms of publication and exhibition.” 

The opening reception is Friday, Dec. 6, from 5-7 pm at the John Sommers Gallery, Art Building 84 west of Popejoy Hall, Room 202. The show opens Monday, Dec. 2, and runs through Thursday, Dec. 12. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30-4:45 p.m. The show and opening reception are free and open to the public.

UNM's traditional Hanging of the Greens starts at 5:45 so visitors can go to both events, Blemel added.