Releases | New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs

Building Connections- New National Hispanic Cultural Center guest-curated art exhibition examines influence of artworks by incarcerated artists

February 20th, 2024

Albuquerque, NM – The National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) is thrilled to welcome a new guest-curated art exhibition that builds upon the work of its celebrated paño exhibition through exploration of the artistic traditions inspired by the artistic movement. Paño Connections – Corazón Knows No Bounds, guest curated by Eric “Christo” Martinez, opens at the NHCC Visual Art Museum on Friday, Feb. 23. 

“We are incredibly honored to be working with Christo as an artist and the guest curator for this exhibition and the experience has been so meaningful as we learned about the stories behind each of the artworks,” said NHCC Head Curator and Visual Arts Program Manager Jadira Gurulé. “What emerges is a complex reflection of the familial and community bonds that persist through artistic expression in the face of great challenge and separation. The exhibition continues an engagement with the topic of art and incarceration in the museum and builds upon the legacy and influence of these artists.” 

Martinez is a New Mexico artist who learned to paint during his time in prison. The exhibition explores artworks inspired by paños (drawings on handkerchiefs) and other artworks created by incarcerated artists. This is the second iteration of this exhibit, and Martinez’s goal is to expand connections among those who are passionate about this body of work. 

“Paño Connections is more than an exhibit, just like prison art is more than art,” Martinez said. “It is real lives that express they are more than a number and statistic. It is parents, children, loved ones, and a growing movement to connect artists, communities, and organizations to take a new look and gather hard data from the success stories of what is possible through the arts and rehabilitation.” 

Additionally, Paño Connections builds on work started by NHCC’s acclaimed exhibition in Into the Hourglass: Paño Arte from the Rudy Padilla Collection, which showcases over 100 paños or pañuelos amassed by the late collector and community advocate, Rudy Padilla. Into the Hourglass, which runs through April 14 at the NHCC before travelling to other locations, celebrates paños as an art form and the contributions of incarcerated artists to the broader fields of Chicano and American art.  

Paño Connections, in turn, advances this work by highlighting artwork inspired by the paño movement and other art forms  by incarcerated artists. This collaboration with Martinez builds upon the dialogue that honors the longstanding and ever-evolving artistic traditions born inside and expanding beyond the United States prison system. 

Starting Friday, Feb. 23, the exhibition will be on view in the NHCC Community Gallery, which is dedicated to showcasing art by New Mexican artists. That evening from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., the Center is hosting a free opening reception for the exhibition with featured artists and more. Please note that the entrance to the Visual Art Museum is under construction. The exhibition is on view until August 18 and is generously supported by the McCune Foundation. 

More about the National Hispanic Cultural Center The National Hispanic Cultural Center is dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and advancement of Hispanic culture, arts, and humanities. The NHCC presents mission-related events throughout the year, some produced by its history, literary, performing, and visual arts programs, and others by partnering with external organizations. Events take place at its 20-plus-acre campus, which includes a plaza, an art museum, a historically designated building, a library, and a genealogy center. The NHCC is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and is further supported by the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation.   

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A graphic promoting Pańo Connections

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