February 14, 2024

Take Another Look:

"Murals 101 with Dr. Kym Pinder and Nani Chacon"

Take Another Look: "Murals 101 with Dr. Kym Pinder and Nani Chacon"

Join us for a conversation about murals. This is the first of 3 episodes about murals. 

Host joni palmer talks with Dr. Kym Pinder, Dean of the Yale School of Art, and Nani Chacon, a nationally recognized Diné (Navajo) and Chicana painter and muralist, about the power and perception of murals.

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Meet the Guests

Since 2021 Dr. Kymberly Pinder has served as the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean of School of Art at Yale University where she is also an alumna. Prior to returning to Connecticut, she was the provost and acting president of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston; and dean and museum director at the University of New Mexico. 


Dr. Pinder is a scholar of representations of religion and race in American Art and her books include Race-ing Art History and Painting the Gospel: Black Public Art and Religion in Chicago. Through civic and campus partnerships, she has led mural projects in Chicago, Albuquerque and most recently, New Haven. 

Nanibah Chacon (b.1980 Gallup, New Mexico) is a Diné (Navajo) and Chicana artist who has been highly active in the public arts sector for over two decades. Although known for large scale murals her practice expands across disciplines, including illustration and installation. Last year a major solo museum exhibition at SITE Santa Fe included rope installation pieces based on weaving patterns and large-scale paintings inspired by Diné creation stories.

Her numerous mural projects focus on community engagement, addressing the complexity of contemporary Indigenous culture and identities. Chacon holds that art should be accessible and a meaningful catalyst for social change, that this is possible in works embedded with nuanced concepts and addressing urgent socio-political issues. Cultural repair and radical colonial resistance through masterful visual storytelling and re-telling. These murals are reclamations of the spaces they inhabit.

Learn More About the People, Places, and Projects Discussed in Episode 7

Why are we talking about murals?

  1. Murals have grown in popularity in New Mexico and across the United States;
  2. Murals are one of the pathways for artists to get into the field of public art;
  3. Murals are often a collaborative process: they are a way for the community to get involved in public art making.

In 2014, the Albuquerque Public Art Program adopted a Mural Policy to better meet the needs of muralists and communities interested in mural projects in Albuquerque.

Cave Paintings to Graffiti: History of Mural Painting Course at UNM

In 2017, Dr. Kym Pinder and Nani Chacon taught a course at the University of New Mexico about the history of mural painting that focused on the way in which murals have communicated religious, political, and personal messages to communities for millennia.

The course included Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, Mexican muralists and revolution, civic mural movements in the U.S., graffiti as a global phenomenon, and murals in Albuquerque.

While learning about the history of murals, UNM students participated in all aspects of planning, designing, and creating a mural for Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless (AHCH) in collaboration with ArtStreet, UNM Fine Arts, Working Classroom, and the Albuquerque Public Art Program.

The mural project at AHCH celebrated the powerful tradition of the inclusion of marginalized communities through public art, a movement that begun with the Wall of Respect mural in Chicago.

Students collaborated with ArtStreet participants to design mural proposals. Several designs were presented to AHCH and the Albuquerque Arts Board.

"To Spread Happiness," 2017, designed by Nathaniel Nez, Lead artists: Nani Chacon, Adriana Ortiz, and Angel Pavia along with ArtStreet participants and UNM students

Nathaniel Nez's design, "To Spread Happiness" was selected. The design features hummingbirds fluttering across a turquoise sky above the Sandia skyline outlined in rainbow stripes. The hummingbirds symbolize determination, flexibility, and adaptability.

View more murals funded by the CABQ Public Art Program.


Explore MurosABQ.com and learn more about some of the murals in Albuquerque!

Check out the MurosConnect Forum that focuses on connecting artists with walls throughout Albuquerque!

With the MurosConnect Forum, artists can share their portfolio or mural proposal and business/property owners can post mural project opportunities.

Additional Resources

UNM Art Museum Exhibit

In 2015, Karen Fiss and Dr. Kymberly Pinder curated Necessary Force: Art in the Police State, an exhibit at the UNM Art Museum. The exhibition included contemporary works that addressed a range of issues including surveillance, incarceration, drug abuse, inadequate mental health care, gun violence, and racial profiling, as well as the power of collective protest and collective healing.

Learn more about the exhibition and participating artists.

Working Classroom

Working Classroom is a non-profit organization whose mission is to "cultivate the artistic, civic, and academic minds of youth through in-depth arts projects with contemporary artists to amplify historically ignored voices, resist systemic injustices, and imagine a more equitable society."

Wall of Respect

The Wall of Respect, photo by Robert A. Sengstacke

Learn more about the Wall of Respect mural, dedicated on August 27, 1967.

Episode 8 Sneak Peek

The next episode of Take Another Look will focus on the logistics of coordinating and making murals happen in Albuquerque and beyond.

joni will talk with local muralists Noé Barnett and Andrew Fearnside to learn about their artistic process.

City of Albuquerque Public Art Urban Enhancement Division | cabq.gov/publicart

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