2024 Hands-On Curatorial Program: Reflections on Movement

by | May 17, 2024 | Hands-On Curatorial Program

“Reflections on Movement” logo created by the Coe Center’s
Hands-On Curatorial Program students, 2024.

 03/17/2024 | Opening Day!

The 2024 Hands-On Curatorial Program’s student-curated exhibition Reflections on Movement was a great success! Over seventy people came to support our student curators and witness the culmination of their hard work over the past academic year. 

At the opening, it was impressive to watch our students confidently explain their experiences with the program. They eloquently explained their collaboration with each other, their curatorial concept of looking at the collection through the eyes of trade between communities, and the ideas around collecting.

Reflections On Movement was curated by Braulio Chavez (New Mexico School for the Arts), Julia Gibson (Academy for Technology and the Classics), and Zoë Kountoupes-Wilson (Mandela International Magnet School). The 2023-24 Hands-On Curatorial Program was directed by Lillia McEnaney. 

McEnaney shares: Seeing the student curators learn and grow throughout the past year has been a joy. Reflections on Movement is indeed a reflection on this year’s Coe curriculum, which focused on the history and theory of museums, asking critical questions about representation and decolonizing how work is done within institutional spaces. The student curators took these issues to heart, creating an exhibition that, in their own words, ‘demonstrates the possibilities of creating an inclusive artistic space, where connections across time and place can be celebrated.

 Reflections On Movement is open by appointment through June 28. If you have not already seen this incredible exhibition, it is a must-see—we look forward to hearing from you!

 Thank you to our generous sponsors, The Roan Mulholland Fund, Dunn Edwards Paints, New Mexico Arts (a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs), and the National Endowment for the Arts, who made this exhibition possible. Special thanks to Axle Contemporary for their support at the opening event. We would also like to extend a special thank you to our volunteers, who, as always, are absolutely amazing! 


View the show catalog online:

 02/21/2024 | Official Press Release

Exhibition Opening
Reflections on Movement
Where: Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts
When: Friday, May 17, 2024, 5:30 to 7:00 pm


Every object tells a different story. Each has traveled across the world to this one point, the Coe Center, and has now reached our hands and minds. The pieces we chose speak to one another, sharing something in common. Containing stories of the human experience—such as childhood and play, work and utility, or creation stories and spirituality— they all remain different. Each item was produced within varying contexts, moving between people, times, relations, homes, and environments. We have done our best to witness these stories and share them.

“Reflections on Movement” features stories of collaboration and trade between cultures, connecting to create social bonds. Some pieces are even composed of parts from multiple places and communities, working in harmony. As a curatorial collective, we connected over this topic because of our personal experiences and interests. The histories, techniques, and styles of the work can speak to anyone. We hope visitors can also connect with the stories being told, and share our experience of listening and learning from the works.

We call into question what society deems as museum “artifacts.” As curators, we chose pieces that may appear unusual in a gallery setting. We carefully considered the background of each unique object, treating them with the respect Indigenous art is often denied. Through “Reflections on Movement,” we hope to demonstrate the possibilities of creating an inclusive artistic space, where connections across time and place can be celebrated.

This year’s curators are Braulio Chavez (New Mexico School for the Arts), Julia Gibson (Academy for Technology and the Classics), and Zoë Kountoupes-Wilson (Mandela International Magnet School). Currently in the midst of its tenth year working in collaboration with high school students across Santa Fe, the intensive curatorial program is led by Program Director Lillia McEnaney.

 04/16/2024 | Program Update

The Hands-On students are hard at work making the exhibit space come to life! For the past several weeks, they have been hard at work finalizing their exhibition catalog, planning their gallery design, and transforming the Coe’s space for their exhibition. One major element of this is painting their project’s logo on the back wall of the exhibition gallery. The logo was created collaboratively by the group and is inspired by one of the objects in the show. Come to the opening to see it in person!

 04/02/2024 | Museum of International Folk Art and Conservation Lab

Our students visited the Museum of International Folk Art and got an exclusive after-hours tour of the captivating exhibitions, Ghhúunayúkata / To Keep Them Warm: The Alaska Native Parka, La Cartonería Mexicana / The Mexican Art of Paper and Paste, and Multiple Visions: A Common Bond. They also spoke with the conservation team to learn about the field of object conservation and discuss the unique conservation challenges found in each of the exhibits. Thank you to the staff at the Museum of International Folk Art!

 03/19/2024 | Hands-On Updates with Rose Burns

 03/05/2024 | Guest Visit: Exhibition Design

The students discussed museum careers with Lila Pickus, an Exhibition Designer for the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. They explored what exhibition design entails, from collaboration with curators to working with fabricators. They also asked Lila how she began working in museums. Lila gave the students valuable input on how to think about designing their own exhibition. We thank Lila for her time. Thank you Lila!

 01/23/2024 | Field Trip: Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

The students visited the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and walked through two of their current exhibits, Here, Now and Always and Horizons: Weaving Between the Lines with Diné Textiles. Program Director Lillia McEnaney led the tour in collaboration with Director of Education Marita Hinds (Tesuque Pueblo). Lillia was a co-curator of Here, Now and Always, and the project manager for Horizons. Students compared the two exhibit approaches to thinking about collaborating with Indigenous communities. They were encouraged to think about exhibition design and the choices that go into creating an exhibit. Thank you to the staff at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture!

 11/28/2023 | Guest Visits

Curatorial workshop with Guest Speakers Bess Murphy, Luce Curator of Art and Social Practice, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and Tony Chavarria (Santa Clara Pueblo), Curator of Ethnology, Laboratory of Anthropology, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.

 10/27/2023 | Program Update

The 2023-2024 Hands-On Curatorial Program is in full-swing!

Guided by our Program Director, Lillia McEnaney, our passionate students are diving deep into the world of art. Last week, Rose Burns, our Collections Manager, conducted an insightful workshop on safely handling different types of artworks in the Coe’s collection.

In this week’s session, the students participated in a close-looking activity. They learned how to ask multifaceted questions of objects, examining shape, size, texture, color, weight, balance, smell, damage, materials, imagery, motifs, styles, and markings. They also thought through objects’ origins, makers, and home communities.

09/19/2023 | First day at the Coe Center!

On their first day at the Coe Center, our newest group of high school students dove into the collection, eager to explore and find inspiration for their upcoming Hands-On Curatorial Program. Surrounded by history, they embarked on a journey of discovery. Through discussions and exploration, they began to shape their visions for the program, fueled by the excitement of unraveling the stories behind each piece. As they departed, their minds buzzed with inspiration, ready to embark on a transformative journey of creativity and curation.

The Hands-On Curatorial Program is supported by the Roan Mulholland Fund.
In addition, 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.

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