NMSU Art Museum Received $300,000 Andrew W. Mellon Grant

LAS CRUCES — The New Mexico State University Museum of Art is among a select group across the country to receive a competitive grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The art museum was among those invited to apply for a grant of between $150,000 and $500,000 from the Mellon Foundation’s Art Museum Futures Fund. The $300,000 grant will be used to support the general operations of the NMSU Art Museum.

“We are thrilled and proud to have been chosen by the Mellon Foundation to receive this grant, which will have a lasting impact on our operations at the art museum, particularly over the next two years,” said Marisa Sage, Director from the University of the Arts. Museum. “These funds allow us to take another step towards our vision for growth, including improving operations and hiring a curator of collections. With this support, we can broaden public access to the collections and support artists holistically throughout the creative and exhibition process.

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Sage’s proposal details the art museum’s efforts since 2016 to “shape public understanding of the intrinsic value of art in our diverse community, both on and off campus, by presenting exhibitions and acquisitions that reflect specifically this region.

Marisa Sage (left), director of the University Art Museum, and Jasmine Herrera, art museum coordinator, submitted a proposal to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that resulted in a $300,000 award for museum operations for the next two years.

The NMSU Art Museum has introduced more inclusive practices and programs to welcome all members of the community to engage in art. Sage has also acquired new works by female-identifying LGBTQ+ artists as well as Black, Indigenous and artists of color. Projects and commissions acquired by Wendy Red Star, Christine Nguyen, Justin Favela, Las Hermanas Inglesisa and Lenka Clayton illustrate how Sage, Art Museum Coordinator Jasmine Herrera and NMSU Foundation Development Officer Allison Layfield have worked to gather diverse perspectives that engaged people and topics important to border regions. See a gallery presentation for “Work: Motherhood and Art in 2020.”

The University Art Museum exhibition “Work: Motherhood and Art in 2020” ran from February 2020, the opening of the new NMSU Devasthali Hall art center, to December 2020. The exhibition, co-curated by art museum director Marisa Sage and artist Laurel Nakadate, focused on expanding compelling conversations about motherhood in today's socio-political climate.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the NMSU Art Museum transitioned to an entirely online exhibition format, reaching 8,000 people worldwide through web galleries, live performances and free interactive workshops created by mothers regional artists. Adapting to the pandemic served as a learning experience and an opportunity to increase community access beyond the border region.

“The College of Arts and Sciences is proud of the work that Marisa, her team and the Department of Art have done over the past five years and in particular their creativity in expanding their reach by sharing their exhibits with a national audience and international during the pandemic,” said Enrico Pontelli, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This award is a prestigious but well-deserved recognition for such hard work and commitment. With support from the Melon Foundation, they can build on their progress and expand the visibility of diverse artistic voices and increase community engagement in southern New Mexico and beyond.

Wendy Red Star (bottom right) speaks to visitors to her 2018 exhibition at the University Art Museum, which traces the history of

As the nation’s largest arts and humanities supporter, the Mellon Foundation has awarded more than $500 million in 2021 to a range of projects in the United States and Puerto Rico. This is the largest giving year in the Mellon Foundation’s 52-year history.

The Mellon Foundation works with artists, curators, restorers, scholars and organizations to ensure equitable access to excellent artistic and cultural experiences. The organization reaches out to colleges, universities, and other organizations that embrace equity in higher education, with a focus on historically underserved populations, including non-traditional and incarcerated students.

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“To create a more inclusive and equitable arts ecosystem in the border region, UAM recognizes that there is a need for us as a museum to play a greater role in supporting a diversity of artists and visitors to museum face a myriad of systemic injustices in health, finance, housing and more,” Sage said. “Through funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, UAM is committed to increasing our role in racial and gender equity by alleviating institutional barriers to sharing works by underrepresented artists in our collections. , exhibitions and programs.”

Taos artist Nikesha Breeze' (top left) curates her exhibition titled

Examples of the art museum’s commitment to supporting a diversity of perspectives that impact the Southwest include the exhibitions “Four Sites of Return: Ritual, Remembrance, Reparation and Recovery”, which features works by Nikesha Breeze and runs from January 21 to March 5. and “Contemporary Ex-Votos: Devotion Beyond Medium,” curated by Emmanuel Ortega, which opens in September.

Breeze’s exhibit includes the work “Stages of Tectonic Blackness: Blackdom”, a two-channel video documenting a performance centered on the 20th century black freedom town called Blackdom, New Mexico – the first fully state black. Ortega’s exhibition juxtaposes Mexican retablos from NMSU’s permanent art collection with new works by emerging Latinx artists.

The NMSU Art Museum is free and open to the public and all aspects of these exhibits will be available online and in person, including programming. Learn more about all upcoming exhibitions and NMSU’s permanent art collection by visiting the UAM website.

Minerva Baumann writes for New Mexico State University Marketing and Communications and can be reached at 575-646-7566, or by email at [email protected]

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