New Mexico Museum of Art

Word Play Opens February 8 at NMMoA

December 31, 2019


(Santa Fe, New Mexico) – Words and pictures have a long history of playing well together, sometimes reinforcing and sometimes contradicting each other. Word Play is an exhibition of more than forty works of art in a variety of mediums featuring images by artists who incorporate letters, words, and phrases into their visual creations.

Among the delights of the exhibition are photographs inspired by the words in our everyday environment, such as shop signs, graffiti, and advertising, by photographers including Van Deren Coke, Miguel Gandert, and Walker Evans. Comics and cartoons offer another familiar model for joining words with images, as seen in prints by Betty Hahn, Jason Knapp, and Joyce Neimanas. In other cases, words and images work together in service of a social or political message, seen in pieces by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, David Sloan, and May Stevens. Notes, handwritten letters, and poems also make an appearance, incorporated into compositions by Meridel Rubenstein, Alex Traube, and others. These whimsical, poignant, and sometimes cryptic compositions are accompanied by a variety of word puzzles and games in the gallery that invite visitors to play along.

“It is meant to be a fun exhibition that shows the many ways that artists have incorporated words and text into their visual images,” said Curator of Photography Katherine Ware. “We look at words all day long – in traffic signs, e-mails, and books – without thinking much about their appearance. In these works of art, the shapes and colors and placement of words amplify their meanings.”

Word Play is scheduled to open February 8, 2020, and will be on display at the New Mexico Museum of Art until September 13, 2020. 


About the New Mexico Museum of Art

The New Mexico Museum of Art is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents. Programs and exhibits are supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and its generous donors.

Founded in 1917 as the Art Gallery of the Museum of New Mexico, the New Mexico Museum of Art has been presenting innovative arts programming in downtown Santa Fe for more than a century.  At its founding, the museum collected and exhibited artworks by noted artists from New Mexico and elsewhere. This tradition continues today with a wide array of exhibitions and a significant collection featuring work from the world’s leading artists. Today, as at its founding, the Museum of Art strives to bring the art of New Mexico to the world and the art of the world to New Mexico. Museum exhibitions and programs are supported by donors to the Museum of New Mexico Foundation Exhibitions Development Fund and the Fund for Museum Education. 

107 West Palace Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico, just off the downtown Plaza in Santa Fe, NM 87501.   24 Hr. Recorded Message: (505) 476-5072; Front desk: (505) 476-5063 Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, May through October; closed Mondays November through April, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Events, news releases, and images about activities at New Mexico Museum of Art and other in divisions of the Department of Cultural Affairs can be accessed at

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