The intellectual dialog shared among Master of Fine Arts students at New Mexico State University does not have to end upon graduation, at least thats the hope for one former professor and five former Aggies.
Together, Jacklyn St. Aubyn, Tauna Cole 99, Robin Wiener Labe 00, Jean Reece Wilkey 08, Jenni Higginbotham 09 and Isadora Stowe 10 form the Praxis Collective, a group of women artists who want to expand the scope of their common artistic and scholarly interests and bring it to the greater art community.
Having the collective also gives the artists a healthy challenge, Wilkey says, Because we are all making our work the best we can.
Each member brings something unique to the group. Collectively, they say Higginbotham brings a young and fresh personality while Cole is quietly effective, often carrying their ideas forward. Wilkey organizes and handles the business aspects while Stowe is proactive, enthusiastically finding opportunities for the group. Wiener Labe unifies the group with her intuitive nature. And St. Aubyn relates their work to the context of the art world.
Formed in 2010, the members still maintain their own bodies of work using the collective as a support system, but also come together to create collective artwork. St. Aubyn, Cole and Wilkey focus on oil paintings. Stowe works in acrylics and ink. Wiener Labe and Higginbotham specialize in drawings in charcoal, graphite and mixed media. Higginbotham also writes art reviews.
Their most recent installation, Indras Net, serves as a fitting metaphor for the collective highlighting their interconnectedness, as it is an arrangement with 324 independent paintings that unite to form something bigger than themselves.
As an artist youre working in solitary way, Wilkey says. But for me the connections and friendships created at the university have been very sustaining.
St. Aubyn is a professor emeritus, recently retired after teaching painting and drawing for 21 years at NMSU. Cole is currently an assistant professor at NMSU, and Wilkey is an adjunct professor at NMSU and University of Texas at El Paso. Stowe is an adjunct professor at UTEP and El Paso Community College. For more information about the collective, visit www.praxiscollectivenm.org