New Mexico Museum of Art

Exhibition about Breath opens at New Mexico Museum of Art

March 04, 2021


On average, we will take about a billion breaths in our life, yet no one knows which breath will be our last. In a climate in which breathing and respiratory health have been at the forefront of global news, the exhibition Breath Taking is scheduled to open at the New Mexico Museum of Art (MOA) on March 13 and will be on view through Sept. 5, 2021.

More than 45 drawings, installations, photographs, sculptures, and videos by 18 contemporary artists will explore the nature of the universal act of breathing by measuring it, scanning it, enclosing it, evoking it, and reminding us of our vulnerability. Breathing is an essential biological function that many of us have taken for granted, that is until 2020,” said Mark White, MOA Executive Director. “With the advent of COVID-19 and George Floyd’s tragic words ‘I can’t breathe,’ the act of respiration has become increasingly complicated in American culture. Breath Taking not only takes into account recent events but also the philosophical and spiritual ramifications of breath."

That mixture of the existential with the immediate makes this an interesting exhibition for our time, inviting viewers to ponder breath as they encounter work about the current pandemic, racial and social justice issues, and the human relationship with the environment, among other topics. Some pieces in the exhibition focus on the repetitive act of breathing, while others suggest the volume or movement of a breath. Several artists emphasize the reciprocal exchange of oxygen and carbon between animals and plants in their work.

"Breath is a formidable subject for a visual artist,” said MOA Curator of Photography Katherine Ware, who conceived the exhibition. “It is fundamental but essentially invisible part of our lives. One of the pleasures of the show is seeing how each artist chose to bring breath to our attention."

Featured in the exhibition are works by Stuart Allen, Linda AlterwitzDan Estabrook, Brian Finke, David S. Goodsell, Cynthia Greig, Alison Keogh, Sant KhalsaMarietta Patricia Leis, Shaun Leonardo, Tony Mobley, Jill O’Bryan, Peter Olson, Kim Richardson, Frank RodickMeridel Rubenstein, Don J. Usner, and Will Wilson.

To give insight into their work, visitors can hear directly from the artists featured in the exhibition through a video seriesThese People to People talks are presented virtually and will be released mid-day on the dates noted below on the MOA YouTube channelVisit the museum website for a full schedule of events, resources, and programs.

Video Series Schedule:

February 24: “The Making of Breath Taking,” Rebecca Aubin and Katherine Ware discuss the challenges of organizing an exhibition about breath during a pandemic.

March 24: “Environment and Breath,” Sant Khalsa and Meridel Rubenstein discuss their long-term commitment to making art about human interconnections with the natural world.

April 14: “Inspiration: Breath as Spirit,” Marietta Patricia Leis and Kim Richardson in conversation about how visual art can be a gateway to spiritual reflection.

May 12: “Breath Taking in the News,” Tony Mobley and Don J. Usner discuss making photographs of unfolding events during a time when breath is front-page news.

June 23: “Measuring Breath,” Stuart Allen and Alison Keogh talk about the challenges of capturing the essence of breath in two- and three-dimensions.

About The New Mexico Museum of Art
The New Mexico Museum of Art is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. Programs and exhibits are supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and its donors. The mission of the Museum of Art is to create authentic experiences that foster a deeper understanding and enjoyment of art throughout our state. With a collection of more than 20,000 pieces of work, the museum brings the art of the world to New Mexico and the art of New Mexico to the world.


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