While other states celebrate Nurses Week, here in New Mexico the entire month of May 2023 has been proclaimed Nurses Month by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, and WNMU observed the month in equally grand style by installing a recently commissioned sculpture of nurse and former faculty member Pam Kuthe.
Kuthe, who retired from WNMU in 2007 and passed away in 2020, was a long-time Silver City nurse, a dedicated nursing educator, and a valued colleague. She was recognized as a Nursing Legend by the New Mexico Center for Nursing Excellence, and she was pivotal in establishing the modern nursing program at WNMU, which graduated its first class of associate degree students in 1993.
To honor Kuthe’s legacy, WNMU commissioned a bronze sculpture of her, titled Nursing is a Calling, created by a local collective of artists. The sculptors who worked on the project all have ties to WNMU: Chelsea Boone earned a BFA in 2016, Maurice Camacho earned the same degree in 2019, Colette Beers graduated in 2015 with a BS in Psychology and went on to earn her MBA in 2018 and Michael Metcalf is a Professor of Sculpture in the Department of Expressive Arts.
The team of artists came together in 2020, and in addition to creating public art they also cooperatively run Made in Silver City, a downtown studio and gallery. By 2021 they had already installed their first collaborative project together, the sculpture Ice Cream Girls, which can be found at the bottom of the steps in front of Bowden Hall on the WNMU campus.
Nursing Professor Charnelle Lee, who knew Kuthe, finds the new sculpture to be a fitting remembrance of her former mentor. “Looking at her sculpture brings to mind her raucous laugh that filled the building,” said Lee. “She was a staunch advocate for nursing and for nursing students.” Lee added that Kuthe was especially adept at explaining complex physiological processes to students, an ability that is referenced in the sculpture by an anatomy and physiology book, a text she is said to have treasured.
The new sculpture of Kuthe is located on the front porch of the School of Nursing Building.