While the light of New Mexico is commonly associated with representational landscape paintings, the West has also nurtured and attracted artists who struggled to capture and express more than mere naturalistic representation in their artwork. Filling two galleries of the newly constructed New Mexico Museum of Art Vladem Contemporary, the exhibition looks at artworks from the mid-20th century through the present day with eye towards the West and Southwest, and this desire for a visual experience that could convey more than the empirical. Transcendental Painting Group members and acclaimed New Mexico artists Emil Bisttram and Florence Miller Pierce are at the start of an arc that unfolds to reinforce the connection between the work the Museum of Art has always supported and trends in contemporary art practice and art history. In this specific case, connections are drawn between the nonphysical realms the TPG aspired to, the perceptual experience of the light and space movement, physical engagement of early land art, and contemporary projects like the indigenous futurism of Cochiti artist Virgil Ortiz.
The exhibition checklist for Shadow and Light includes works by artists with established regional, national, and international reputations including Larry Bell, Emil Bisttram, Lee Bul, Judy Chicago, Ron Cooper, James Drake, Angela Ellsworth, Gloria Graham, Nancy Holt, Jennifer Joseph, Agnes Martin, Florence Miller Pierce, Virgil Ortiz, Jen Pack, Helen Pashgian, Charles Ross, Susan York, Leo Villareal, and Erika Wanenmacher.