Releases | New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs

“To Make, Unmake, and Make Again” makes debut at the New Mexico Museum of Art

September 14th, 2023

Santa Fe, NM- What defines an artist? For Rick Dillingham (1952-1994), it was more than art and the pieces he created. He was a maker, collector, and community builder. New Mexico Museum of Art explores the multifaceted aspects of Dillingham’s work as an artist, community activist and anthropologist in their latest exhibition To Make, Unmake and Make Again, on view in the New Wing at the Plaza building October 6, 2023, through June 16, 2024.  

The Museum of Art is thrilled to be collaborating closely with Dillingham’s collectors, community members, and institutions across New Mexico and the western United States to make this exhibition a reality,” said Katie Doyle assistant curator at New Mexico Museum of Art. “To Make, Unmake, and Make Again assembles the largest concentration of Dillingham works from across his artistic career, and will feature several works and archival materials that have not been seen in public since Dillingham’s death in 1994.” 

Dillingham was a prominent fixture in the Santa Fe artist community and was firmly grounded in the tradition of Southwest ceramics. While an art student at the University of New Mexico, he worked in the Anthropology Lab at the Maxwell Museum restoring pottery. At the same time, Dillingham was studying and experimenting with his own pottery practice. 

  To Make, Unmake and Make Again offers a wonderful juxtaposition of Dillingham’s work with his personal collection of artworks, Indigenous ceramics, and his papers, which were given to the museum’s archive,” said Dr. Mark White, Executive Director. 

The exhibition draws attention to the close connection between Dillingham and the Pueblo potter community. Indigenous works are displayed alongside Dillingham’s works that echo Pueblo patterning, firing techniques, and forms.  

The following galleries feature Dillingham’s more formal pieces that followed his Pueblo-influenced works – gas cans, cones, and spheres speak to the essential building blocks of form. They also demonstrate a shift in Dillingham’s work mid-career to one that broke the pot down to its most reductive elements. 

A final component of this exhibition features Dillingham’s end-of-life work and his AIDS pieces – a series of black pots with silver leaf components.  

“This ambitious undertaking has been a great pleasure and privilege to take on, as the New Mexico Museum of Art was among only a handful of institutions that received artworks from Dillingham’s personal study collection in addition to his letters and personal papers from his 30 years as a maker,” said Katie Doyle. “We are excited to bring Mr. Dillingham home through this exhibition, and to have the opportunity to showcase the relevance of his work in the context of ever-expanding fields of ceramics and Indigenous reclamation.” 

About New Mexico Museum of Art    

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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