Western New Mexico University’s artists-in-residence, Krissy Ramirez and Chelsea Boone, are opening their exhibit, “From Clay to Metal,” with a reception on Wednesday, June 6. Both graduates of WNMU’s Expressive Arts Department, they will discuss their work beginning at 5:30 p.m. The exhibit will hang through Friday, June 22.
A clay artist, Ramirez’ portion is a collection of 18- to 20-inch sculptural mannequins. “I call them my headless Barbies,” she said.
Raised in the border town of Douglas, Arizona, Ramirez struggled with body dysmorphia as a teen. “Making these unnatural-looking Barbies is a way to express how I felt about my experience and a way to raise awareness that many people go through that at some point. The bodies are headless so viewers can put their own faces on the sculptures,” she said. “I thought that having this ideal body would help me be a better person so I could find a good male mate. Also, in the Mexican culture, appearance reigns. I’m trying to get away from that through my sculptures.”
Ramirez made her sculptures to look as if they’re crumbling. “Their brick texture symbolizing buildings and foundations. We build ourselves to match this idea of a perfect look. I want people to appreciate themselves how they are,” she said.
A sculptor and Silver City native, Boone works in cast bronze and dabbles in metal fabrication, using steel and copper. “I like working with metal because it’s high endurance while I’m very emotionally fragile,” she said.
Her body of work for this exhibit represents emotional energies and is an expression of the anger and sadness she felt after her mom’s passing. “The past few years have been difficult for me. My mom got sick and we had a family fall out,” she said. “This body of work has lots of spheres and spirals. Spirals are a good representation of energy sources. The spheres symbolize either the heart or mind. That’s where these energies come from. Do you think with the heart or go with the logical side of your brain?”
Boone hopes people looking at her sculptures get a sense of what she felt during those trying times. “They’ll be able to feel energized or drained from viewing my work,” she said.
WNMU’s artists-in-residence may use the university’s full facilities and sit in on classes. Although Ramirez primarily works in clay, she is permitted to use the painting, sculpture or photography studios. And with full access, Boone has been able to experiment with a new medium and start incorporating it into her pieces regularly.
Whatever art they produce at WNMU is their own to show, sell or give away, although the university will get to keep one of each of their pieces for its permanent collection. As part of Ramirez’ and Boone’s outreach efforts, “From Clay to Metal” puts what they’ve created through WNMU’s artist-in-resident program on display for public appreciation.
“The artist-in-residence program gives us an opportunity to advance our artistic careers,” Ramirez said.
Both women have recently been awarded another year as artists-in-residence and will use the coming term to build their portfolios and plan their next steps. Boone aims to get her work into a downtown gallery, where she hopes to learn the business side of her profession. Ramirez will be applying to post-bachelor’s opportunities around the county.
A third artist-in-residence was accepted to WNMU’s program. Ceramicist Atziry Apodaca will join Ramirez and Boone for the 2018-19 academic year.