New Mexico Artist to Know Now c marquez updates us on their practice, new pieces, and their wishes for the arts community since the COVID-19 pandemic.
This past March (the one that feels approximately 200 years ago) Southwest Contemporary held its second-annual exhibition 12 New Mexico Artists to Know Now. Selected from over 400 submissions, these are the artists we consider to be shaping the landscape of contemporary art in New Mexico.
Just one week after the opening, however, the gallery closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, these artists have continued to create, in terms of art as well as impact in their communities. We’re checking in with each of them to see how they are, and what they’re making now.
lives in El Prado, NM
born in Los Angeles, CA
cmarquez.net | @cmarquez.x
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your process? Has it changed where, how or when you work? Has it changed the subject matter?
The most noticeable change to my process is having more time and creating more regular rhythm to my days spent mostly at home. Since my work is regularly about critical chronologies, i created a project at the outset of our stay-at-home period at the beginning of March. i recorded each day in a drawing using a circle to represent the growing number of days at home. After a few weeks, i added crosses to the images to memorialize the growing number of deaths in NM. i continued making daily drawings over the course of 80 days, reflecting these numbers, until June 1 when the first stay-at-home order was temporarily lifted. This helped me feel a part of what was happening outside my walls—i was able to digest the gravity and seriousness and sit with it every day through this series of meditative drawings. The 80 drawings in 80 days gave me a tether to purpose each day.
[Editor’s note: “I” is lower-case throughout per the artist’s usage]
i also continued “catching up” on my daily sketchbook practice which had fallen behind previous to the pandemic. Getting back to a regular daily practice and feeling one area of regular productivity in my practice was comforting and calming in these strange, sad days. All the sketchbook work is viewable on my Tumblr blog, Instagram, and Facebook. By loading an image every day and having responses on social media, i felt more connected and meaningful in my little corner of my communities.
Several exhibitions that i was scheduled to participate in were postponed, so my work-load in sculptural installation pieces was reduced. This was disappointing, but so far a couple of shows have proceeded in the virtual realm. One exhibition that opened virtually on May 1 was Ephemeral, a show of three artists at GVG Contemporary in Santa Fe. i was able to install alone in the gallery safely so that the piece 521 could be viewed by appointment and photographed for the website of the show. It was great to see this gallery quickly transform their website and promotions for the virtual opening and viewing of the works. The show turned out beautifully and was a great experience in which to be included.
The exhibition Live Wire at form & concept is currently taking place after being postponed for almost three months. Installing the piece 728 in a mask was a different experience, but so great to feel a little back to normal, doing normal things, seeing some other live people for a little while. This show is still up and viewable online or in-person by request until October 18.
Other shows that i was invited to be a part of have been postponed until 2021. It is nice to have something to look forward to. i am grateful to keep making with exhibitions in mind.
On a personal level, i also notice that I am following the patterns of daylight more closely… living by the timing of the sun and the moon. i spend as much time outside as possible, taking meals, reading, relaxing, exercising. i look forward to my time with the night sky, moon, and stars more regularly. And i have been reducing my indoor artificial-light-activities after dark. i go to bed much earlier every night as a kind of retreat to honor my natural energy cycles.
“Please remember to love each other, this life is a beautiful, impermanent endeavor.”
What are your top concerns for the arts and your fellow artists?
i am very concerned about the emotional and physical health and also the financial well-being of fellow artists (and myself). Without avenues to show work and have sales, especially during summer, our most active time, the winter looms uncertainly. i am also very concerned about our artists’ communities. So many artists, including myself, work alone and spend a lot of time alone. Many of us thrive working like this, but it is vital to have events to attend, gather, and see each other and our work weekly through regular openings and performances. By attending these events, we all supported each other and the arts as a whole. This absence feels tragic and ominous, not knowing how it will come back or when. On a brighter side, it feels like we are finding creative solutions to carry on in different ways and the feeling of isolation is lessening.
How has your relationship with art-making changed during this time?
i have been leaning on my familiar processes, working with tumble mustard material for sculpture, and for making pigments for my sketchbook drawings. This familiarity has been grounding and helps me to carry on knowing what i am doing while expanding gently. i have experimented a bit with creating different forms in my sculptural works. And for a few weeks, i brought back using coffee in my sketchbook as a pigment. Since i use what is available in my daily life, coffee grounds/remnants were abundant, an invaluable and inseparable part of my everyday. i wanted to honor it as a part of my practice. In the end, i felt untrue to my monogamous relationship with tumble mustard, my true home-grown material, so i let go of coffee as a pigment, though i still love to drink it every day!
Tell us about your current projects or pieces:
Below are current works recently completed or in progress:
Axle Contemporary Gallery:
800 is being created to fill the mobile Axle Contemporary Gallery and will viewable from outside the gallery (end view) in early 2021. It is a web-like environment formed from the seed pods and cross-sections of stalks of the tall tumble mustard plant that grows where i live. 800 is tangled but organized. It is held together with 800 points of connection that join the constructed lines to stretch across the gallery space, between the two long walls in circular patterns of attachment that “mirror” each other. This piece indicates a period of 800 units of time that bridge separate but parallel experiences (lives). With communication lines vital to relational success, this piece speaks to this fragile, precious apparatus. 800 speaks to understanding and supporting one another through constructive and sustained communication.
Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve:
i am developing a piece (currently untitled) that will be on view as part of the Wilderness Acts: Art-in-Nature exhibition 2021 outside at the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve. This piece is in the developmental stage. Its completion is subject to the Wetland Preserve opening. For this exhibition, invited artists “select a location in the preserve and make work using available materials collected on-site or nearby.” Currently, i am working out concepts/design ideas around the continuing themes of this year, “connection and impermanence.” i look forward to building this piece on-site next year.
form & concept:
i’m invited to be a part of the proposed exhibition/installation “The Queer Family Room” to take place in winter 2021. i am creating a “queer chandelier’ (working title) to hang in the family room installation of works relating to queer family. This exhibition speaks to the fact that many people in the queer community create their own non-traditional “queer-family” of people outside of their family-of-origin, due to family estrangement or strained relationships. We often find our greatest support, love, and understanding in our “queer-families.” This exhibition will celebrate a unique, creative ensemble of works that come together to represent a cozy, comforting, non-traditional family room.
3653 is a sculptural installation made from the valves and stems of the tall-tumble-mustard plant, scientific name: Sisymbrium altissimum. A calendric grid, this artwork is a ten year celebration anniversary piece. Each of the 3,653 valves inserted into a section of stem-stick represents one day. As a whole, this piece illustrates a record of time since the first day i arrived to live in Taos in October 2010 through the upcoming October 2020. This project honors the ephemerality, beauty, and resilience of a life lived in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range and along the Rio Grande, where every day is a breath-taking gift. Taos is a place where there is time and encouragement to take a closer look, and fall in love with every detail of nature that is around us on the land where we live, inspiring us into stewardship and preservation of this nature.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
i just want to thank all the souls at Southwest Contemporary for keeping us plugged into and excited about what is happening in the New Mexico art scene. And for supporting the continued evolution of our artists and the art world. Southwest Contemporary magazine is vital to our sense of connection and community, especially now in these uncharted, unusual times. i feel lucky to live in NM with so many big-hearted, creative, intentional, resilient people. There is no other place i’d rather be! Also, please remember to love each other, this life is a beautiful, impermanent endeavor.