Nearly a century of nurturing artists at Albuquerque's Harwood Art Center

Nearly a century of nurturing artists at Albuquerque’s Harwood Art Center | Pro Club Bd

ALBUQUERQUE – What began as the Harwood Girls School in Albuquerque in 1925 is now known as the Harwood Art Center. As the Escuela del Sol Montessori outreach program, Harwood serves many functions, all focused on furthering the center’s vision of arts as a force of social justice, a cornerstone of community, a path to healing, and an essential part of what it means to be human.

Harwood hosts annual art shows for emerging and established New Mexico artists, offers 39 new solar-powered artist studios, conducts an apprenticeship program, hosts art workshops, and hosts school and summer art camps. Popular local artists such as painter and muralist Reyes Padilla, author and illustrator Zarha Marwan and portrait artist Natalie Voelker all have ties to Harwood, which prides itself on nurturing artists throughout their careers.

The annual Turn up The exhibition focuses on highlighting the state’s emerging artists, and the 2022 edition opened in late June and features works by 11 artists working in a variety of media. In the nine years that the show has existed, over 100 artist alumni have taken part in the program.

Installation view from Surface: Upcoming New Mexico Artists 2022June 13–28 July 2022, Harwood Art Center (Photo by Aziza Murray)

Next to the exhibition Turn up Artists receive the Emerging Artists of New Mexico Award, which comes with a micro-scholarship, and the opportunity to attend a professional development workshop.

“We invite artists who apply to self-identify as aspiring, we don’t have parameters for what that means,” Julia Mandeville, Harwood’s director of programming, told Hyperallergic during a recent visit. “The artists tell us why they fit this label and what they would benefit from benefiting from the program. It’s a wide range of ages, backgrounds, experiences and identities.”

From these diverse voices and varied backgrounds, the jurors find that a common theme is emerging. “Elements rise to the surface of the show. There is always a color element that happens; this year it’s surprising because it’s phosphorescent orange and lavender purple,” explains Mandeville.

Installation view from Surface: Upcoming New Mexico Artists 2022June 13–28 July 2022, Harwood Art Center (left to right: works by Diego Villegas, Luke Graham, Audrey Montoya and Jade Norris) (Photo by Aziza Murray)

Vivid oranges, neon pinks and soft lilacs command attention in the tactile tufted works of Albuquerque-based artist Audrey Montoya. Montoya, who begins her process with digital collages, describes her pieces as monsters born in response to the current state of the world. “Self-Portrait in Purple” (2022), the Taking up considerable wall space at 120 x 36 inches, is a textile work that looks like a giant, drooling purple wolf spitting out smileys, stars and hearts.

Turn up conveys the feeling of the now, where humanity is in the given moment. “There tends to be a reflection of the larger world and the ether that we’re all in,” says Mandeville. “We’re capturing a cross-section of consciousness.”

This year, the emerging theme is in Turn up is an examination of existential ideas. The artists explore what it means to belong, what defines our home, our bodies as vessels and what it means to feel safe and secure.

Vanessa Alvarado, a Mexican-American artist based in Albuquerque, explores the idea of ​​the body as a vessel in her paintings. A versatile creative who also works as an arts educator, Alvarado has a long history with the Harwood, where she trained over a decade ago.

(Left to right, top to bottom) Vanessa Alvarado, “Viéndome Comer/ Watching Me Eat” (2021), oil on canvas, 30 x 24 x 2 in; “Emplumar/ Growing Feathers” (2022), oil on aluminum panel, 20 x 16 x 1/8 in.; “Mi Cuerpo Contra Mi/ My Body vs. Me” (2022), Oil on wood panel, 24 x 18 x 1 inch (Photo by Aziza Murray)

Her self-portraits tell her story of recovery. “The world felt it [Alvarado’s] Body as a woman, her body as a woman of color, her body as a woman of larger size, is theirs,” says Mandeville. “You feel entitled to own claim comments. So she brings it back to her own realm in a powerful and unique tone and perspective.”

The painting Mi Cuerpo Contra Mi/ My Body vs. Me (2022) shows Alvarado wearing a luchador mask, twisted and wrestling with her own leg. The background is sunset orange, creating a striking juxtaposition between the richly colored background, Alvarado’s skin, and the blue luchador mask. Alvarado writes in her artist statement that she tries to transfer her deep love of painting to a part of her life that she has never loved – her body.

Mixed media artist Courtney Metzger also focuses her work on the body as a vessel. She submitted an application to Turn up Jury they had never seen before – one that combined ceramics and video. Metzger spent her summers on Oklahoma’s Osage Reservation, where she created the works on display Turn up. In her video performance “Lake Shore” (2019), Metzger wades into gray waters on a foggy morning on the reservation while smearing clay over her body.

Cortney Metzger, (top left) “Traditions” (2018) local indigenous clay, traditional pit fire, 17″ x 20″; (bottom left) “Oil Money” (2018), white stoneware and iron oxide, 17 x 20 in; (middle) “Lake Shore” (2019), video performance (photo by Aziza Murray)

“All these works are little biographies, little self-portraits,” says Mandeville. “These artists say, ‘I’m ready to be seen. I’m ready to be heard and through my identity I make that claim, I’m ready to emerge as an artist.’”

During Hyperallergic’s visit, the 2022 Arts and Social Justice Training participants ate lunch outside, under a slow, sweet drizzle of much-needed rain. From ages 17 to 24, these youth learn to create public, community-driven artworks while Harwood pays them a living wage.

This summer, they’re working to revitalize Mesa Verde Park in Albuquerque’s International District. They plant a healing garden and make tiles to create a mosaic on a park bench. Each tile contains symbols that tell the oral histories of some of the residents of the neighborhood.

Apprentice Quinn Erickson works with youth at the Mesa Verde Community Center to create ceramic tiles for “Camino,” a public art work in Mesa Verde Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2022 (Photo by Jen DePaolo)

Some have been part of the program for years, like Isabella Ortega, who grew up in the International District and is now a sophomore in the program and a junior at the Art Institute of Chicago. “I love this program so much. It’s always nice to come back and give back and continue the relationship I have here. This is so personal and my home.”

Creating a space where emerging artists can show their work, where young people can use their creativity to support and energize their communities, creating space for artist studios are all critical to making Harwood what it is is: an anchor for his community, an amplifier of voices, a force using its power to make the world a better place through art.

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