October 10, 2017
West of Student Resource Center (SRC)
Lecture & Reception (Comments by Art Historians Tonya Turner Carroll and Wesley Pulkka)
October 10, 2017
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Jeanette Stromberg Library, SRC
“Growing Strength” Installation
The monumental sculpture commemorating CNM’s first 50 years is nearing completion. The expansive three-piece sculptural group stands in the xeriscape garden west of the Student Resource Center (SRC). Two benches, fabricated by CNM welding students, will face the large work from the shade of spreading elms across the walkway, and provide a comfortable place to relax and enjoy the view.
“Growing Strength” was commissioned from artist Karen Yank, known for her large-scale, steel-ornamented public sculptures and her award-winning freeway interchange designs in Albuquerque. Yank, a widely exhibited and nationally recognized sculptor, has works in cities and prestigious public collections across the United States. She works in welded steel construction, taking full advantage of the characteristics of the material and pushing the limits of the medium to construct dynamic and imaginatively engaging works. She is currently represented by Turner-Carroll Gallery in Santa Fe.
The work echoes and plays off of design motifs in the SRC, which provides a contrasting architectural backdrop. “The sculpture is abstract, combining elements of a mountain topped by a wildflower growing out of a fractured rock. The flower has a petal that drops to the ground, flowing into a bench seat,” Yank said. “The mountain is a metaphor for CNM’s strength and stability and how the college has grown, and the flower represents CNM’s fruits of labor and what the school gives back to the community.”
The delicate flower also symbolizes the qualities of growth through the learning process. The shape of the entire piece contains curves and angles that are in some places fluid and graceful and in others jarring and awkward. The complete picture is one of wholeness, intention and fulfillment.
“The sculpture is designed specifically to embody CNM’s mission and values and was created for this particular location, but it also expresses the strength and vitality of Karen’s maturing artistic expression” said Mary Bates-Ulibarri, project director and CNM Libraries branch manager. “The piece is connected to the SRC, and it is intended to be a centerpiece for the Main Campus, just as the SRC is the hub of student learning. We are fortunate to have what is sure to become an important piece in Karen’s body of work.”
“The design of my art expresses a context that can be understood in a moment but with layers that can be seen by those who pause to look deeper,” Yank explains. “My overall goal is to develop a visual language that is compelling within the given environment and community.”
The artist was selected through a very competitive, formal juried selection process, organized by Arts in Public Places, under the New Mexico Division of Cultural Affairs. She was among six finalists, selected from approximately 200 applicants from all over the United States. The selection committee was comprised of faculty, staff and student representatives, who brought different expertise and diverse cultural and professional perspectives.
“The committee chose Karen based on the strength of her past works, the quality of the proposed work, how well it matched the criteria of the committee’s prospectus, and her willingness and ability to engage the CNM community,” Bates-Ulibarri said.
Fabrication and installation of “Growing Strength” was a collaboration between the artist and Damon Chefchis, owner of CMY, Inc., a custom metal fabrication shop in Albuquerque’s South Valley. The two bench seats across the walkway were fabricated by CNM welding students under the direction of Welding Department Chair, Kay Hamby, welding instructors Ron Hackney and Trent Moore, with the assistance of Welding Technician Jasen Thomas, “From the beginning, we developed the intention of involving CNM students as much as possible, in the spirit of the Campus as a Living Lab initiative,” recalls Bates-Ulibarri. The artist and fabricator also invited CNM students to view the work in progress at CMY’s shop, offering insight into the process of designing and constructing a large-scale work, and the importance of planning, teamwork and communication required to succeed in such a venture.
The project is funded by the “One Percent for Art Program,” managed by Arts in Public Places (AIPP), a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. The budget for “Growing Strength” was $112,750, which included the artist’s fee, materials, labor, sales taxes, licenses, permits and inspections, site preparation and site restoration. The project was attached to the construction of the SRC.
An article in the Albuquerque Journal on the artwork and Karen Yank and her artistic path is here.