Opening March 30, 2023:

Tradition and Transformation: Colonial New Spain and Contemporary Hispanic America at the UNM Art Museum

Inspired by visits to the Beaumont Newhall Study Room, the University of New Mexico Art Museum (UNMAM) will open Tradition and Transformation: Colonial New Spain and Contemporary Hispanic America at the UNM Art Museum in the Clinton Adams Gallery on March 30th. Featuring over 30 artworks from the museum’s collection, this exhibition explores New Mexico’s complex history through European painting and sculpture produced in colonial New Spain, and art made in New Mexico. Curated by Angel Jiang, Curator of Collections & Study Room Initiatives, the exhibition will be on view through September 30, 2023.

Students view Delilah Montoya’s Diego (1998) in UNMAM’s Beaumont Newhall Study Room. Photograph by Stefan Jennings Batista.

Tradition and Transformation approaches the Spanish colonial visual language as a living tradition perpetuated by the region’s artists. As the work of the contemporary artists featured in this exhibition demonstrates, this legacy is open to reinterpretation by new generations who have inherited but also transformed this tradition. Far from designating a specific time period, the term “Spanish colonial art” is a dynamic category—one that lives on in those who make, experience, and challenge it. Tradition and Transformation is organized into four sections.

Unknown artist, San Roque (Saint Roch), c. 1840. Oil on canvas. Gift of Dr. Andrew Babey.

Painting and Sculpture in Colonial New Spain demonstrates the dynamism of Spanish colonial painting, a style that infused European models with new palettes, decorative motifs, and symbolism. It includes work by Juan Correa, one of the most prominent and prolific painters of colonial New Spain, as well as unattributed paintings of saints and biblical episodes. This section also features examples of bultos (devotional sculptures), and retablos (panels painted with holy figures) created from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.

Unknown artist, Our Lady of Refuge, c. 1821-1880. Oil on tin. Gift of C. Andrew Sutherland in memory of Angia Rosa Sutherland.
Elena Climent (Mexican, b. 1955), Virgin in Blue Box, 2001. Collaborating printer Bill Lagattuta assisted by Ulrich Keuhle, Tamarind Institute (American, established Albuquerque, 1970). Seven-color lithograph, T. I. 1/3. The Tamarind Archive Collection.

The Art of the Retablo pairs historic painted tin retablos with contemporary printed retablos produced at Tamarind Institute. Retablos refer to either individual panels painted with holy figures, or altar screens made from an ensemble of sculpted and painted elements. While the format and subjects of the retablo are relatively fixed, artists have experimented with the form for centuries. Adopting a traditional palette and representing conventional figures, the contemporary artists in this section reinterpret the retablo in a distinctly modern medium that has become its own artistic tradition.

Luis Tapia (American, b. 1950), Our Lady of Sorrows, 1992. Carved and painted wood, nails. Purchase with funds from the Friends of Art.

Shared Traditions highlights a 1998 project at Tamarind Institute. Part of the UNM College of Fine Arts’ Arts of the Americas program, Tamarind issued a suite of eight lithographs by four renowned santeros/santeras and their children. The project demonstrated both the perseverance of the santero tradition in New Mexico and the role of living makers in continuing it. Four of the eight prints will be on display from March 30 to June 27, and the other four will be shown from June 27 to September 30.

Felix López (American, b. 1942), Mensajero: En Memoria de mi Madrecita Eva (7/20/08 – 2/29/04), 2004. Collaborating printer Bill Lagattuta assisted by Lee Turner, Tamarind Institute (American, established Albuquerque, 1970). Five-color lithograph, T. I. 1/3. The Tamarind Archive Collection.
Delilah Montoya (American, b. 1955), Diego, 1998. Chromogenic print. Purchase with funds from the Friends of Art.

Living Memory highlights work by contemporary Hispanic artists. It features prints and photographs by New Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Guatemalan artists whose work addresses ethnic and national identity, the experiences of various Hispanic communities, and cultural preservation.

Press Contact:

Devin E. Geraci, Manager of Communications & Audience Engagement / 505.277.6773