NMSU Students to Participate in Las Cruces Arts Fair

March 5, 2018 Julian Nunez

NMSU art students will again have the valuable opportunity to exhibit and sell their art at the Las Cruces Arts Fair, March 16 – 18 at the Las Cruces Convention Center. The Doña Ana Arts Council (DAAC) is donating booth space to the students in order to give them important experience as artists in preparing a body of work for show and sale, pricing their work, and becoming comfortable with talking about their art with the public, as well as the opportunity to interact with professional artists from across the country who will be taking part in the arts fair.

The Doña Ana Arts Council works with young artists of all ages through their education programs and this opportunity for college students is an important part of that process, explains DAAC Executive Director Kathleen Albers. “We donate space to the students in order to give them a taste of what life as an artist will be like and the opportunities to interact with the public, explain their work, and hopefully make some sales.”

Julia Barello, NMSU Art Department chair, says, “We are really focusing on developing students’ professional practice skills so that when they graduate, they can think about if they want to work with galleries, go to graduate school, or do commercial work. There are so many ways to make a living as an artist and this gives them the opportunity to start thinking about which direction they want to go.” She adds, “The opportunity to be at the art fair is excellent because it gives them a blueprint on how to work in that milieu and for the first time to be thinking about pricing their work and creating an inventory. The arts council has been very generous in providing this opportunity for our students. It’s a great thing.”

Student event organizer Henry Hartig says 17 student artists will be participating in the Las Cruces Arts Fair, exhibiting a wide range of art which includes paintings, photography, jewelry, digital art prints, and screen prints. He encourages visitors to come to their booth, saying, “See what we’re up to! Support local artists of the NMSU art department as they show off their work at the Las Cruces Arts Fair. For many, this is their first opportunity for public exposure and fresh new design in Las Cruces art for all.”

Some of the students who will be exhibiting at the Las Cruces Arts Fair recently took part in a pop-up show during the Downtown Ramble, held on the first Friday evening of each month. A large space at Bank of the West was filled with student art, including photographs, large-scale paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and a wide range of multi-media works.

Felicia Castro, an art student who recently earned her BFA, was the curator for this show and said, “I think it’s always a great opportunity for students to be able to put their art out there into the world. It’s difficult to get exposure outside of the school. For some of these students, this is their first foray into that (exhibiting their art), so it’s good for them to have that experience and to understand the quality that needs to be there, the labeling, the right pricing.”

Castro further encouraged visitors to talk to the student artists to learn more about their work. She says, “I think it’s interesting what students are doing because they’re always engaged with the world in some aspect. I think it’s hard to pinpoint what some of these pieces are about, but as you start to read the labels and speak to the artists, (you’ll understand). For example this work is by one of our grad students and it touches on really strong parts of our culture that are happening right now such as social media and mass shootings. You wouldn’t get that just by looking at it, but if you engage the work and you start to understand from where it’s coming, you’ll understand that there’s a lot of meaning behind the work, so I think it creates a dialogue between the artist and the community that needs to happen.”

Karen Conley, who retired from the army after 28 years and is now an art student at NMSU, will be exhibiting her work at the Las Cruces Arts Fair. She says, “It’s a good experience for students who are still in school to find as many venues as possible in the local area,” further explaining that making art is one thing, but artists must also know how to effectively display their art, and, she said, “Put its best foot forward.”

Beyond creating and exhibiting art, students need to experience another aspect of being an artist, Conley added, saying, “I think it’s important for students to be able to have the exposure to the local community. You start in your community trying to connect with people and connect your art with that community. Also, I think it’s learning your market because the Las Cruces market is different from Santa Fe or big metropolitan areas.”

You can see the NMSU student art, along with that of over 90 professional artists from across the country at the Doña Ana Arts Council’s 8th Annual Las Cruces Arts Fair. All proceeds the Las Cruces Arts Fair benefit youth art programs produced by DAAC in the community. DAAC is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting art and artists in the Mesilla Valley as well as promoting arts education for children. For more information, go to www.daarts.org or call the DAAC office at (575) 523-6403.

Admission for the Las Cruces Arts Fair is $10 for one adult or 2 adults for $15 if purchased in advance before March 16. Each ticket is good for 2 days: Friday evening (5 – 8 pm), Saturday (10 am – 5 pm), or Sunday (10 am – 4 pm). Children aged 12 and under are admitted free. Tickets available at www.daarts.org , the DAAC office at 1740 Calle de Mercado, Cutter Gallery, Art Obscura, The Frame & Art Center, or call (575) 523-6403. 

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