The newly installed bronze sculpture at The Gardens near Light Hall is a tribute to the many generations Western New Mexico University has served since 1893.
A trio of WNMU alumni spent six months creating “Ice Cream Girls” to pay homage to one local child’s sweetest memory and to the spirit of community that this institution represents.
One summer in the 1930s, sisters Martha and Charley sat outside Light Hall while their mother was in class. A professor walked by and acted on his regret that they waited in the hot sun without ice cream. That experience was integral to their eventual pursuit of education at WNMU and to their lifelong investment in the local community.
Before becoming a middle school teacher, Martha went on to make a name for the Lady Mustangs on athletic courts across the region as one of the first inducted into the Women’s Athletic Association Hall of Fame. Charley first worked at married student housing on campus and later worked at a downtown retail shop. Both raised children in Silver City.
The story inspired artists Chelsea Boone, Colette Beers and Maurice Camacho, in partnership with WNMU Expressive Arts sculpture professor Michael Metcalf, to bring their diverse backgrounds and styles together in this commissioned piece.
“We had three old photographs of Martha but none that really showed her features at the right age, so we talked to the family some and researched what a seven-year-old would look like and wear in 1937,” Beers said. “One of the artists’ daughters modeled a dress and the figure’s position on the wall.”
From there, the multi-stage process of crafting the sculpture began for the alumni, who are working to open a studio/gallery/gift shop in the ground floor of the Murray Hotel this summer.
All of the artists will be at sculpture’s dedication and ice cream social this Wednesday to share about their process and the excitement they put into making something permanent for the campus of their alma mater, Beers said.