Sun Photo: William Thompson
Tucucmari artist D’Jean Jawrunner takes a look at one of the iron towers she is creating at Mesalands Community College. Jawrunner has a bronze work on display at the Santa Fe Museum of Fine Art.
The prestigious Santa Fe Museum of Fine Arts has an exhibition of bronze sculptures by the French artist Edgar Degas. Displayed with the Degas works are bronze pieces from New Mexico sculptors, including a piece from Tucumcari artist D’Jean Jawrunner.
Jawrunner, an art instructor at Mesalands Community College, said the exhibition of her sculpture “New Mexico Pride” is a major milestone in her career.
“People from all over the world will view that work,” Jawrunner said. “People at the opening were really excited about the piece. This exhibit is being advertised and reviewed in art publications worldwide.”
The exhibition runs though Oct. 2. Jawrunner said about 500 people attended the exhibit’s opening reception Friday.
“This show is important because it showcases New Mexico’s foundries,” she said. “Students will want to come here to Mesalands when they see the kind of work that is produced here. Our facility here is comparable to facilities at many graduate schools.”
Jawrunner described her exhibition piece as an abstract representation of movement and gesture. At a distance it reminds one of a bow-legged cowboy, but when viewed up close one can see there is nothing realistically human about the piece except the depiction of a body in motion. The piece is part of a series called “Clunky Old Human Beings.”
“It took me about a month to create that piece,” Jawrunner said. “Much of art is about problem solving and designing. I’ve been told by museum curators and gallery directors that I have an excellent sense of the body and my work is strong, aggressive and lyrical.”
Jawrunner received her Master of Fine Arts degree eight years ago at East Carolina University and decided to come to Mesalands to teach. She says she draws her inspiration from Tucumcari.
“Artists, like reporters, document the world we know, and I know a bit about Tucumcari,” she said. “What I see in Tucumcari is funneled into my hands. I am translating New Mexico into my vision.”
Jawrunner is working on a series of iron towers about 3 1/2-feet high which will become an installation piece called “Iron Acropolis.”
“I cast discarded items like Styrofoam and plastic in iron to create the towers,” she said.
Jawrunner said the towers, which look somewhat ravaged or war-torn, may have been somewhat inspired by the destroyed World Trade Center towers.