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New Mexico Museum of Art

Small Wonders Celebrates Small Photographs

Detail of Grass (2015), Liz Steketee, Pigment print, thread, and dye. Courtesy o f the artist. From the exhibition: Small Wonders at the New Mexico Museum of Art.

In a world of digitization, enormous televisions, and giant electronic billboards, what is the big deal about little pictures?

Small Wonders is a surprising selection of small, contemporary photographic work that invites Museum of Art visitors to revel in the pleasures of the miniscule.

Offering context for the contemporary work are several examples of nineteenth and early-twentieth century photographs that illustrate the small scale of early photography and its use as source material for some of the artists in the exhibition.

“The scale of these works of art draws viewers closer, quietly commanding more attention and closer looking than large photographs,” said exhibition curator Katherine Ware. “In some of the pictures, the small size alludes to the precious and somewhat secretive quality of a special snapshot or keepsake. And while the smallness of some pieces makes them approachable, it sometimes concentrates their intensity into a concise form, like a thorn.”

Creating some collages that are humorous and others that are unsettling, Denver-based artist Susan Goldstein’s collages are comprised of found photographs. Liz Steketee of San Francisco starts with her own photographs, then cuts, rephotographs, and sews them into startling compositions.

Española artist Laurie Tümer began her career by cutting photographic prints into spirals and arrows, joining them with paint to invent small scenes, each about 2 x 2 inches in size. Jan Pietrzak, based in Santa Fe, uses a camera to create his images, working in the darkroom to develop his exquisite platinum prints that measure a diminutive 2¼ x 2¼ inches each.

Small Wonders features other small pictures in forms generated solely by the artists. Santa Fe artist Jenna Kuiper’s installation invites a distinctive visual vocabulary for her charming yet cryptic photograms (photographs made without a camera). Taking cameraless photography even further, Houston-based David Janesko creates his images using a laser to draw on light-sensitive paper, arranging the works into a constellation on the wall.

Visitors are invited to create their own photomontages (a mixture of elements made into a single composition by photographing them) in the gallery using a variety of scrap images and their imaginations!

Small Wonders is on exhibit at the Museum of Art through March 12, 2017.

The New Mexico Museum of Art is open Tuesday–Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission $7 for New Mexico residents. $12 for non-residents, free for children 6 and under. The first Sunday of each month is free for New Mexico residents with ID. Wednesdays are free for New Mexico resident seniors (60+) with ID.

Also at the Museum of Art:

Through March 26, 2017: Alcoves 16/17 highlights five artists working in New Mexico today.

New Mexico Museum of Art
107 W. Palace, Santa Fe
505-476-5072 | nmartmuseum.org

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