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The Albuquerque Museum is working to create a more diverse collection of local artists with recent acquisitions. “We’re working to create a space that welcomes and engages our community and those coming from other places with the opportunity to experience the culture, the people and the diversity of New Mexico,” says Josie Lopez, curator of art. The city’s Arts and Culture Dept. approved $100,0000 for FY22 to be allocated for future acquisitions of artwork.

Some artists included in the collection are Jaune Quick-to-See Smith and Ruben Olguin. Smith, who has been outspoken about Native American artists who have not been part of the broader conversation. Olguin creates visual spaces that incorporate Native American art into the conversation of the landscape by showing the impacts of colonialism on the Southwest. Olguin’s work specifically focuses on Native American access to resources for Indigenous tribes. Lopez views Olguin’s work to be essential and is excited to announce his next project at the museum, which will incorporate iconography and scientific data to create a large mural installation describing the landscape of New Mexico.

Creating New Conversations

Because of an overwhelmingly romanticized view of Native American art, the museum is striving to create new conversations by including artists such as Fritz Scholder, a famous artist who has been recognized for dispelling stereotypes regarding Native American art. Other pieces are by contemporary artist Wendy Red Star, whose artwork recreates previously romanticized photos of Native American women by depicting them in a more contemporary atmosphere. By having these works intentionally placed to confront each other in the gallery, Lopez says, “We don’t want to get rid of what was collected in the past, but we want to create interpretations, narratives and context so that people can see how important it is for voices to be centered within the exhibition and collections.”

Terri Greeves, who has won numerous artistic awards and whose artwork is displayed at the Smithsonian, showcases her Rez Girls collection. The artwork highlighting beaded shoes shines bright among this collection and begs the question what is considered fine art

Traveling Exhibitions and Local Artists

The museum balances traveling exhibitions with the local collections. Lopez says, “It is also important to elevate our local artists so that they are a part of the national conversation.” An initiative that will allow for diversity, access and an inclusion plan will help define the identity of collections and analyze the specific data needed to do that.

Diversity through Art

One of the more recent acquisitions is a landscape by printmaker Karsten Creightney, Black Hills, which brings up the contentiousness of Native American sovereignty, land rights and the foundation of the U.S. Alongside other newly displayed artworks, it brings up the issue of displacement by looking at the land through the lens of it being ready for the taking. Museum staff hope these new acquisitions exemplify the purpose of creating dialogues between the works while also diversifying the artwork that is currently part of the collection.

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