The Residency for Art and Social Justice is a new program that offers studio space, honoraria, material support and exhibition opportunity to locally based artists whose work is socially and politically driven. Harwood Art Center has a long history of supporting artists intersecting between art and social justice. 

Creativity Is the Seed of Change 

Associate Director of Opportunity Helen Atkins states that, last year, Harwood discovered a need to offer more support through providing studio space—particularly for artists whose work centers around social justice. Atkins states, “Artists are needing support during this unprecedented time, as are all people. In times of economic disparity or sparsity, the arts often get pushed aside.” Atkins’ statements align with Harwood Art Center’s mission, which continues to allow for economic support of artists. Atkins says, “Creativity is the seed of change, and artists are the drivers or catalytic forces in movements of change, social justice and social awareness.” Now more than ever, Atkins believes, is the time to bring in artists who are underrepresented and in need of space to showcase their work.  

La Furia en Contra de la Máquina

The gallery’s new exhibition features works by Martín Wannam and Marlene Tafoya who, after applying to the program, were chosen to receive a studio and exhibition. Wannam’s partnership with Tafoya, a former student of his, uses iconography and currency to recognize symbols of the economy. Wannam invited Marlene Tafoya to collaborate on this project, and together they have been working on the exhibition with other Indigenous artists currently getting their MFAs from UNM. Wannam examines social-political systems in Guatemala with a queer brown lens using photography and sculpture as tools of iconoclasm. La Furia en Contra de la Máquina is a collaborative effort that explores how systems of oppression function, how corrupt ideologies form and the way both queer people and people of color live. Wannam states, “La Furia en Contra de la Máquina explores creating our own monuments and systems. You don’t see a lot of queer, Indigenous or people of color displayed through monuments.” Wannam works to deconstruct sculptures through artwork like those displayed in the exhibit, which shows a disruption of currency by moving the central figure and allowing others to think about who is being represented on currency and why. 

Promoting Local Artists

The focus of the Harwood Art Center is to promote local artists, and all of the exhibitions, commissions and teaching opportunities are locally focused. There is a yearly schedule that is open for artists to apply to, and there are residency programs—such as the one Wannam applied to—that provide further support. The Harwood Art Center has another program called Surface Emerging Artists of New Mexico, which focuses on emerging artists and offers exhibition and monetary support to local creatives and talents. Atkins states, “We are always interested in magnifying the voices of artists. We take a broad approach to the term ’emerging artists,’ and we let people self-identify and are always aiming towards diversity.” Atkins mentions that it is important for artists at all levels to be showcased together. Harwood Art Center creates a focal point around diversity and represents a broad spectrum of experience, social and racial identities.

La Furia en Contra de la Máquina is on exhibit and free to the public Sept. 27 through Nov. 4. Exhibition reception is Sat. Oct. 16, 6 to 8pm. Harwood Art Center, 1114 Seventh St. NW.