Students on campus may have encountered a change in their visual surroundings recently when crossing Smith Plaza or walking by the McKinnon Center for Management. On the north side of Zimmerman Library, a whimsical large-scale sculpture titled Stone, Paper, Scissors, now sits in a raised gravel bed near outdoor seating. And on the south side of McKinnon Center, Portal, a large-scale sculpture in the form of a giant open door, is situated in a grassy area between two large pines.

Stone, Paper, Scissors by artist Kevin Box conveys a nostalgic reference to the common childhood game of Rock, Paper, Scissors and juxtaposes the carefree time of childhood against the reality of heavy workloads college students undertake during this stressful era of the world pandemic. Likewise, Portal, by artist Chris Weed, suggests the magic sense of unknown potential, opportunity, and wonder for each student that has yet many doors to walk through in their futures.

While UNM students navigate the uncertain and stressful rigors of college, especially now, the sculptures provide opportunities for comfort and contemplation. The sculptures will also likely become traditional spots for iconic graduation photos of smiling students in cap and gown, just as the Lobo sculpture outside of Johnson Gym and the giant “U” outside of Hodgin Hall are utilized.

“The UNM Public Art Committee hopes that students and staff are able to look to these new public artworks and find a few moments of joy and wonder during these trying times,” said Maxine Marks, the acting public art manager for the UNM Public Art Committee.  

The artworks were acquired through the State of New Mexico Art in Public Places Program, a government initiative that funds public artworks throughout the state via the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. The artworks were selected through a vigorous process that included several selection committees at state and local levels. The program is a generous endeavor that lawmakers fund—at no cost to UNM—by reserving 1 percent of capital bonds to acquire public artworks for the cultural benefit of New Mexicans to enjoy everywhere, every day and again here on main campus.

For more information, visit N.M. Art in Public Places.