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Nicola López and Paula Wilson: Becoming Land at Albuquerque Museum

August 31, 2022

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On view October 8, 2022- February 12, 2023

Nicola López and Paula Wilson: Becoming Land presents contemporary interpretations of the New Mexico desert landscapes that embody an ecological perspective and emphasize the relationships between humans and their surrounding environment. Paula Wilson’s prints and fabric-based installations integrate and center figures, expanding beyond the classical genre of landscape while Nicola López’s prints imagine abandoned, futuristic structures centered in New Mexico scenes. Both artists explore new ways of seeing the land.

Becoming Land is presented simultaneously with three other exhibitions featuring historic and contemporary artists that engage the natural world through diverse depictions of the landscape. Shi Guorui: Ab/Sense-Pre/Sense and Kiki Smith: From the Creek offer specific responses to the landscapes and work of Thomas Cole presented in Thomas Cole: Memory and Inspiration. The works of Wilson and López featured in Becoming Land present a broader conversation with the works of Cole. Becoming Land suggests that artworks reflect the artist’s and broader culture’s ideas around power, ownership, and access to land.

López and Wilson’s work center the New Mexico landscape and expands beyond traditional views and perspectives of the land as it has been depicted by artists in the United States. In Wilson’s work, which includes large scale prints on fabric as well as prints on paper, the landscape is an ever-changing space full of relationships between animals, plants, and humans. Her work includes large-scale figures that contain the landscape, integrating different perspectives, seasons, and relationships. Other works show current technologies such as phones and headphones as part of the relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world. Wilson’s work offers a nuanced exploration of the sublimity of nature that incorporates not only plants and animals, but also technology and debris which are part of human’s evolving connection to the land.

Both Wilson and López’s works challenge the viewer’s notions of scale. López’s works incorporate structures that appear futuristic and monumental, but are also engulfed by the surrounding landscape. Though there are no figures present, the works emphasize the ongoing human interactions and interventions in the landscape through time. López’s prints appear as abandoned sites and suggest that there is no untouched wilderness left in the world. The forms of the landscape are interjected with structures that appear substantial, but also fragile and ephemeral integrating the past and the present with the suggestion of a desolate future. López’s works on view include a large cyanotype as well as collagraphs and a charcoal drawing on printed photographs.

López and Wilson’s works continue an ongoing dialogue around environmentalism and explore the agency that artists have in raising questions and concerns about the environment. The artists give attention to the desert landscape and their works suggest that the way we see the land reflects our relationship to it.

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