It’s About Time: 14,000 Years of Art in New Mexico

- February 17, 2012

“14,000 Years of Art in New Mexico…”

New Mexicans have always made art – we have always made aesthetic objects that reflect our world views. From beautifully made, 14,000-year-old Paleo-Indian tools to contemporary imagery, New Mexico art has reflected our changing technologies, embodied our ways of making a living and personified our spirituality. And, where else but New Mexico has art reflected everything from the creators of stone tools to the invention of the atomic bomb?

It's About Time: 14,000 Years of Art in New Mexico celebrates the centennial of statehood by presenting a social history of the art of the Southwest. This exhibition opens May 11 at the New Mexico Museum of Art, runs through January 2014 and is an official New Mexico Centennial project. 

Curated by Joseph Traugott, the museum’s curator of 20th century art, It's About Time: 14,000 Years of Art in New Mexico begins with the earliest yet-discovered art – Clovis points – and proceeds in an unbroken continuum to the present.

The exhibition displays 120 works of art that include Native American, Hispanic American and European American works as a single, holistic tradition, not three separate traditions that never interact. Most of the objects in the exhibition were made to be art. Ohers became art by metamorphosis when objects were understood in new cultural contexts. The works range from representational images to abstractions.

As markers of the past and present, the works of art in It’s About Time spur aesthetic responses and a deeper understanding of the region’s diverse cultures – how the art of the early santeros evolved from the more baroque representations originally imported from Mexico to a more simplified expression, accommodating indigenous art-making materials and beliefs. Yet, innovation by Native artists was discouraged by early anthropologists who placed a premium on the artistic styles of the past which they considered to be more “authentic” and culturally pure. Fortunately, San Ildefonso potters, Maria and Julian Martinez, did not hear this message, influencing generations of artists who followed.

T.C. Cannon, Gerald Cassidy, Judy Chicago, E. Irving Couse, Robert Henri, Marsden Hartey, Luis Jimenez, Raymond Jonson, Agnes Martin, Bruce Nauman, Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Pelton, Florence Miller Pierce, Diego Romero and Luis Tapia are some of the well-known artists in the exhibition.

The Museum of New Mexico Press is producing a related hard cover publication “New Mexico, Art Through Time: Prehistory to the Present.” This social history of New Mexico art includes 240 full-color reproductions of Native American, Hispanic and European American art.