The New Mexico Museum of Art presents Rick Dillingham: To Make, Unmake, and Make Again, an exhibition showcasing the life’s work of the multi-faceted artist. The exhibition is on view October 7, 2023–June 16, 2024, in Santa Fe.
Rick Dillingham: To Make, Unmake, and Make Again
October 7, 2023–June 16, 2024
New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe
What defines an artist? For Dillingham (1952-1994), it was more than art and the pieces he created. He was a maker, collector, activist, scholar, author, curator, and community builder. New Mexico Museum of Art explores the multifaceted aspects of Dillingham’s work as an artist, community activist, and anthropologist in its latest exhibition, Rick Dillingham: To Make, Unmake and Make Again. This exhibition is on view in the new wing at the plaza building from October 7, 2023, through June 16, 2024.
Rick Dillingham: To Make, Unmake and Make Again assembles the largest concentration of Dillingham’s works from across his artistic career, and will feature several works and archival materials that have not been seen in public since Dillingham’s death in 1994.
Dillingham was a prominent fixture in the Santa Fe artist community and was firmly grounded in the tradition of Southwest ceramics. While an art student at the University of New Mexico, he worked in the Anthropology Lab at the Maxwell Museum restoring pottery. At the same time, Dillingham was studying and experimenting with his own pottery practice.
Rick Dillingham: To Make, Unmake and Make Again offers a wonderful juxtaposition of Dillingham’s work with his personal collection of artworks, Indigenous ceramics, and his papers, which were given to the museum’s archive. New Mexico Museum of Art was among only a handful of institutions that received artworks from Dillingham’s personal study collection in addition to his letters and personal papers from his thirty years as a maker.
The exhibition draws attention to the close connection between Dillingham and the Pueblo potter community. Indigenous works are displayed alongside Dillingham’s works that echo Pueblo patterning, firing techniques, and forms.
Also featured are Dillingham’s more formal pieces that followed his Pueblo-influenced works—gas cans, cones, and spheres speak to the essential building blocks of form. These pieces demonstrate a shift in Dillingham’s work mid-career to one that broke the pot down to its most reductive elements.
A final component of this exhibition features Dillingham’s end-of-life work and his AIDS pieces—a series of black pots with silver leaf components.
Rick Dillingham: To Make, Unmake and Make Again brings Dillingham home and showcases the relevance of his work in the context of ever-expanding fields of ceramics and Indigenous reclamation.