Steven Hurley: An Interview by Collective Constructs

UNMAM Coordinator of Exhibitions, Steven Hurley, prepares the installation of Nothing Without Each Other (2023) by Collective Constructs member, Anna Rotty, in Hindsight Insight 2.0.

Episode Description:
Steven Hurley never planned to work in art—he moved to Albuquerque to run a coffee cart, but the more he worked in galleries, the more he came to find the work continually exciting and deeply meaningful. Hurley has now been at the University of New Mexico Art Museum for 18 years, working his way from curatorial assistant to his current role as Exhibitions Coordinator, and in that time he has installed countless exhibitions. In this conversation, we talk about all the work that goes into putting on exhibitions, how there are teams of people involved in making any show possible, and how all that work, ideally, is invisible to the museum visitors.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Steven would like to add a big thank you to Ted Laredo, who’s helped install many exhibitions at UNM Art Museum, and who is a freelance art installer in Albuquerque with over 30 years of experience. Ted and his wife Angela Berkson, who also worked at UNM Art Museum, are gifted artists who have been active in the Albuquerque art scene for many years.


The Butter Museum in Cork Ireland

Hammer Museum at UCLA

Necessary Force: Art in the Police State at the University of New Mexico Art Museum

People Mentioned:

Lewis Baltz (1945 – 2014) was an American visual artist and photographer.

Mary Statzer, Curator of Prints & Photographs at UNMAM.

Angel Jiang, Curator of Collections and Study Room Initiatives at UNMAM.

Welsh sculptor Richard Deacon’s Dead Leg installation at the University of New Mexico Art Museum.

Betty Hahn is an American photographer. Listen to Collective Constructs’ conversation with Hahn here.

Rose B. Simpson is a mixed-media artist from Santa Clara Pueblo, NM. In the Fall of 2021 UNMAM led an online seminar between Simpson and UNM students – view the archive of the seminar here.

Raymond Johnson (1891 – 1982) was an American painter and a member of the Transcendentalist Painting Group. Learn more about Jonson by visiting the Raymond Jonson Web Portal.

Agnes Pelton (1881-1961) was an American painter and a member of the Transcendentalist Painting Group. See works at UNMAM by Pelton in Pelton & Jonson: The Transcendent 1930s. You can read about a traveling exhibition, Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist, here – published by the New Mexico Museum of Art.

Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954) was a Mexican painter.

Scott Williams, UNMAM Preparator and Museum Studies Student.

Ted Laredo, freelance art installer and artist.

Angela Berkson, artist.


Think-Pair-Share Questions

  • Steven says if his job is done well, it hopefully goes unnoticed. Does labor often go unseen? What can you infer from an exhibition space about invisible labor?

Building-Critical-Awareness Discussion Questions

  • Steven shares his insight into the backend and often unseen labor that goes into preparing an exhibition at a museum. Are there power dynamics at play in a traditional museum model? How does collaboration play a role? Or, how might collaboration be taken up within a museum space?