The Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts’ Hands-On Curatorial Program just ended its eighth year of working with high school students from across Santa Fe. This year’s curators attend New Mexico School for the Arts, Academy for Technology and Classics, and Santa Fe High and are Cruz Davis-Martinez, Tyler Gonzales, Skyler Hraber, and Himaja Sunkara.

Unknowing can be intriguing and fascinating, or it can be frustrating and unsettling. Immense amounts of information have been within our reach for most of our lives. And yet, how does it feel to realize that there is still information beyond our knowledge and many unknown stories beyond what is visible to us? We are taught from early childhood the necessity of understanding and to fear the unknown. 

The Coe collection made us revisit this mentality. While we saw plenty of examples of objects that existed for an apparent purpose, there were a few pieces that did not. We returned to the curious mindset of our childhood, asking why it was that these pieces did not have a written history. Were the objects’ reasons for existing entirely erased, and if so, why? Why was it that several pieces did not have complete records in the Coe’s database and others did? And what does it do to an object to lose its context? 

Although the Coe pieces have a complete history from before they came into the collection, as curators and artists we encountered a distinct lack of information and even understanding about these pieces. It felt like stumbling around with the lights off. We found this experience of not being able to find the answers rare and wished to capture it in our own artmaking. We wanted to create an exhibition including our own original artworks, that explores the stages of information-gathering throughout the curatorial process. For each of us, the Coe’s collection prompted confusion, intrigue, and inspiration for our own art pieces. We made artworks before, during, and after our research into the Coe’s collection in hopes of capturing the experience of wrestling with our lack of knowledge, hoping that we can finally coexist with the unknown, like a nightlight in a dark room.

The Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts Hands-On Curatorial program student exhibition <NO_RECORDS>, opened to the public on May 13th, 2022, and goes through July 9th, 2022.

Below, you will find the student-curated brochure for your viewing pleasure.


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This project is supported in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment for the Arts.