The Coe Center and this Online Show
The Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts’ Hands-On Curatorial Program is in its sixth year working with high school students from the Academy of Technology and the Classics (ATC), New Mexico School for the Arts (NMSA), and the Santa Fe Indian School (SFIS). Returning students Veronica Silva, Lesly Esparza, and Roan Mulholland are joined by new members, Cameron Hicks, Amanda Lomahaftewa-Singer (Santa Clara Pueblo), and Elysia Escobedo (Santa Clara Pueblo). The program provides an opportunity for students to work hands-on with the Coe collection of over 2,300 works of Indigenous art from around the world. Through museum visits and weekly sessions, the curators learn how to create their own exhibition from the Coe collection by selecting objects, researching and drafting wall texts, writing press releases, designing graphics and the exhibition layout, as well as creating their own limited-run curator-designed t-shirts in collaboration with YouthWorks. The participants build their exhibition from the ground up.
Nostalgia is a part of our lives and continues to impact us throughout the history we make. Each artwork that we picked from the Coe collection reminded the curators of some nostalgia specific to their lived experience. For example, an old birchbark diary filled with messages and stories reminded us of our own individual journals and diaries.
Our original goal was to have these artworks exist in a lived-in and interactive space. Shown and having been part of daily lives, the artworks are infused with our memories, memories of the artists who made them, the communities they come from and the purposes they hold. Even though COVID-19 has prevented us from containing these pieces in an environment as initially planned, we still believed it was essential to hold onto that space of existence. Therefore, in our online exhibition, instead of providing an in-person space to explore, we now present photographs, videos, and writings exploring and conveying the reactions to the chosen pieces we wanted to share and wanted others to experience. Nostalgia is a universal experience, even if it’s on a screen.
When entering our website, keep in mind that it is still interactive. Feelings and memories are meant to surface and connect you to the Coe pieces. This is our primary goal--to bring the viewer (you) closer to these emotions. By making our own art inspired by these Coe pieces, we fuse together the idea of the object and our own personal meaning. It might not make sense at first, but the theme of nostalgia is present in the varying art created for this online exhibition. We urge you to look deeper. Whether a video, a diary entry, or a photo collage they are interconnected. Explore, be confused, and experience your own nostalgia.
The COVID-19 Situation
And how we're handling it
Although COVID-19 has affected a lot of things in life, our message going into this exhibition stayed the same. Our main goal was to emphasize the idea of nostalgia and the comfort it brings, through items in the Coe Center. This year, we wanted to do an interactive show, which is ironic now, given the circumstances. But even though we’re stuck indoors, we have managed to keep the interactive element of this show persistent. By having videos, links, and art you can explore with an in-depth view of the Coe pieces, as well as ourselves, we hope to inspire reflection in those who visit our website.
The novel coronavirus has at once put an emphasis on what we cherished before this period of self-isolation and made stronger the memories we choose to revisit through all this. When deciding what this project meant to us, we honed in on the ways our individual nostalgias shaped our identities and our relationships with the objects in the Coe Center's collection. What the pieces we chose to exhibit sparked in each of us was different, tied to our totally different upbringings and backgrounds. Our message is the same now as it would've been if we were still given an opportunity to make an in-person display; perhaps strengthened now that we've all had ample time to remember what makes up each of us, what we love most in life, and how things were different.