A recent University of New Mexico graduate was featured in a photo essay about affirmative action published by The New York Times.
Andrew Michael Joseph, who graduated in May with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Honors Art Studio and a minor in Honors Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts, was one of seven students whose work was featured in the essay titled College Looks Like This: Seven Students, Seven Campuses.
The photo essay offered an examination of what college campuses looked like around the country prior to the Supreme Court’s decision to restrict the consideration of race in the admissions process.
“It's been a bit surreal to see it published and know that people outside of my immediate sphere and community are seeing my photos and seeing our community, but I'm honored to have been chosen to talk about and photograph such an important concept,” Michael Joseph said. “I think having this assignment allowed me to also reflect on what community means.”
The photo essay included images from UNM; University of California, Berkeley; Howard University; Harvard University; LaGuardia Community College; University of Wisconsin, Madison; and Middle Tennessee State University.
In the published piece, Michael Joseph, credited as Andrew Jogi, described feeling supported by a strong community of people of color and queer people at the University.
“My time at UNM has allowed me to explore myself and my art because I had the fortune of being a part of such a diverse and accepting community within UNM Art that was also focused on representing many different voices,” Michael Joseph reflected.
In addition to expressing what his campus community meant to him, Michael Joseph had a bigger message to share.
“I hoped to convey how important it is to have a diverse student body and how without that a college will cease being an institution for learning and sharing ideas,” he said.
During his undergraduate work, Michael Joseph had two solo exhibitions. The first show, proximity to divinity, looked at his relationship with masculinity, queerness, and their intersection, as well as how these understandings inform his navigation of the world. Later, his thesis exhibition, morning stars, explored what it means to exist as a transmasculine couple in contemporary society.
Michael Joseph’s photographic work focuses largely on exploring the intersections of identity and its impact on how the human body is perceived.
“I'm inspired by my experiences as a queer person of color and I'm motivated by a desire to understand the way my identity has influenced my navigation of the world,” he said. “I seek to create work which challenges contemporary societal expectations as well as normalize queer existence and find kinship and commonality within shared experiences.”
Michael Joseph expressed gratitude to several professors in the University’s Arts and Honors programs: Patrick Manning, Megan Jacobs, Welly Fletcher and Meg Gould.
“I felt very supported during my time within UNM Arts and UNM Honors, especially by many of my professors. I was encouraged to pursue the Honors Art Studio degree and really enjoyed getting to so thoroughly dive into my artistic practice.”
After graduation, Michael Joseph accepted a position as a summer production assistant at Santa Fe Workshops. He hopes to continue navigating the world through photography.