The University of New Mexico Art Museum (UNMAM) recently opened its newest exhibition, Hindsight Insight 2.0: Portraits, Landscapes, and Abstraction from the UNM Art Museum. The hybrid exhibition and project space is devoted to complicating existing narratives about racism, decolonization, and gender stereotypes within museum collections while de-centering curatorial authority and institutional voice.

Curated and created by Collective Constructs, Jess T. Dugan, Angel Jiang, Eleanor Kane, and Mary Statzer, the exhibition features over 60 portraits, landscapes, and abstract artworks from the UNM Art Museum collection. The exhibition will be on view through 2024.

Patrick Nagatani (Asian-American, 1945 – 2017), Contaminated Radioactive Sediment, Mortandad Canyon, Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico
Patrick Nagatani, Contaminated Radioactive Sediment, Mortandad Canyon, Los Alamos National Laboratory

“The intention behind Hindsight Insight 2.0 is to honor and engage student perspectives, interests, and concerns to make art relevant and alive for UNMAM’s core audience. Over the next two years of this ongoing experimental project, museum staff will engage the university community to generate critical dialog that resists static presentation and fixed interpretations,” said Mary Statzer, curator of Prints & Photographs at the UNM Art Museum.

Hindsight Insight 2.0 asks where art objects come from, why they look the way they do, and how they earned their place within the museum walls. Though the art historical importance of the objects in Hindsight Insight 2.0 is noteworthy, this exhibition encourages critical thought and conversation on the role of university museums and the practice of art collecting. The exhibition is organized into four thematic sections.

Women Depicting Women, curated by UNM Art History Ph.D. candidate Eleanor Kane, celebrates the work of remarkable female artists from the past 166 years who have challenged expectations of what portraiture can be. “When Curator Mary Statzer asked if I would be interested in collaborating on a section of Hindsight Insight 2.0, I knew right away who I wanted to elevate and emphasize: Women Artists. Not all great artists are men, but most permanent collections give that distinct impression,” said Eleanor Kane. Highlights of the section include Dr. Mary, a portrait taken in 2015 by Matika Wilbur (b. 1984, Swinomish and Tulalip) from Project 562, her multi-year project dedicated to photographing all federally recognized Native American tribes.

Emmi Whitehorse (Diné, b. 1957), #156, from the series Kin Nah Zin, 1982
Emmi Whitehorse (Diné), #156

As Far as the Eye Can See features a collection of 20th-century landscapes that foregrounds women artists and artists of color who have unique connections to The University of New Mexico. For example, Betty Hahn (b. 1940) and Patrick Nagatani (1945 – 2017) were photography professors in the Department of Art and Art History. This section highlights how personal histories and unique points of view inform artists’ work. It also includes new work by Francis Reynolds and Anna Rotty–two UNM graduate students in photography and members of Collective Constructs–who respond and pay homage to their predecessors.

Embodied Resonance pairs the photographic portraits of Jess T. Dugan and Anne Noggle. Born generations apart, Dugan (b. 1986) and Noggle (1922-2005) share a passion for representing people from marginalized groups with unwavering honesty and deep respect. In the 1970s and 80s, when Noggle made her photographs of older women (including herself), women over 50 years old were devalued in society and practically invisible, making her depictions a radical departure from societal norms. Dugan advances that radicality for contemporary audiences, creating tender and intimate portraits of their own body and other queer and non-binary people. The photographs are accompanied by a personal text written by Dugan who describes how Noggle’s photographs have resonated for them over a ten-year period.

Persona: Photographic Portraits features photographs depicting a wide range of settings where subjects project a sense of self outside the protective environment of the home or studio. It also showcases a recent acquisition, by photographer Jess T. Dugan, Sky, 64, Palm Springs, CA, from their series To Survive on This Shore: Photographers and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults. This photograph, along with four others by Dugan, formed the inaugural purchase from UNMAM’s Acquisitions Fund for Diversity and Equity in 2019.

Hindsight Insight 2.0 honors student perspectives by inviting the university community to contribute to the exhibition. Collective Constructs—formed by UNM students Marina Perez, Francis Reynolds, and Anna Rotty, with Assistant Professor of Art and Art History Marcella Ernest (Ojibwe)—contributes to the presentation and interpretation of Hindsight Insight 2.0 in ways that translate to a socially conscious practice. The group provided guidance on works displayed in the exhibition, posed questions to museum visitors through wall text and will continue to engage with the exhibition by publishing a zine, conducting interviews with artists and museum staff, and developing a series of public programs. Further invitations to respond to the exhibition will be extended to students and faculty across UNM.

The UNM Art Museum’s teaching collection includes over 30,000 art objects, making it the largest collection of artworks in New Mexico. Hindsight Insight 2.0 connects the past, the present, and the potential of the collection by reflecting on the museum’s history while providing a path of relevancy to 21st-century learners. Through this innovative initiative, UNMAM invites the university community to actively participate in the development, presentation, and interpretation of the exhibition.

Hindsight Insight 2.0 is made possible by a generous grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art. The Terra Foundation for American Art, established in 1978 and having offices in Chicago and Paris, supports organizations and individuals locally and globally with the aim of fostering intercultural dialogues and encouraging transformative practices that expand narratives of American art, through the foundation’s grant program, collection, and initiatives.

Top image: Marguerite Zorach (American, 1887 – 1968), Women in a Garden, 1918.