CONNECTIONS in Albuquerque, NM

I am the regional Northeast/Midwest coordinator for the Society of Layerists in Multi-Media (SLMM) and organized an art project titled Connections. I took the art to a national meeting in Albuquerque, NM.  Our project was one of several by members at the 35th anniversary SLMM meeting September 20-23, 2017. Twenty-one (21) Northeast and Midwest SLMM members created the art here. See all the images below.

The Society (SLMM) was founded by Mary Carroll Nelson (Albuquerque, NM) and is a national organization that meets each year in a different city.

I wrote this post and included all these images because many artists who participated in the project were unable to attend the meeting in Albuquerque and wanted to see their art. The image here is one side of the four sided installation. See close-up views of the works below.

The project started in May 2017 when I contacted SLMM Northeast/Midwest regional members and invited them to make a collage with shared media. I told them I would take the art project to the annual SLMM meeting in Albuquerque, NM.  I sent a packet of assorted collage papers to everyone who agreed to participate and said they should design their art with painting, drawing, text and/or collage, but had to include at least a few of the shared papers in their work. The project goal was to show how sharing art papers connected every work. I titled the project Connections. Below are 3 images, seen above on the double panel.

Collage by Deanna Funk

Collage is by Deanna Funk (Springfield, IL), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches, acrylic and assorted papers.

Collage by Sylvia Harnick

Collage is by Sylvia Harnick (Great Neck, NY), Untitled, 8.5 x 11 inches, photo transfer, acrylic and assorted papers.

Collage by Nancy Egol Nikkal

Collage by Nancy Egol Nikkal (White Plains, NY), titled Red, 11 x 8.5 inches, magazine, tissue and painted papers. Notice my work (above) and the work by Sylvia Harnick (above) both include the shared tissue paper with white dots on red.

Here is part of the text I wrote that is printed on the first panel:

“We are geographically apart but connected with art and the Premise of SLMM. The Midwest SLMM members are: Mary Ann Beckwith, Sylvia Bowers, Sharon Eley, Deanna Funk, Catherine Keebler, Suzan Kraus, Susan Lince, Annie Morgan, and Patricia Tuglus (she has moved to Asheville, NC but did the art for this project). The Northeast SLMM members are: Marie Cummings, Sylvia Harnick, Alice Harrison, Mary Kralj, Valerie Lewis Mankoff, Nancy Marculewicz, Joya Maxwell, Patricia McCandless, Ruth Bauer Neustadter, Nancy Egol Nikkal, Ellen Reinkraut and Gordana Vukovic.

I added: I hope it was a gratifying project for everyone who created the art, and I hope you enjoy it too.”


I sent each participating artist a materials packet and included instructions for how the project would work. The substrate (back paper) for the project was warm white, 8.5 x 11 inches and strong enough for paint and collage as well as printing. I said their work could be horizontal or vertical. This meant the final design for the project depended on how many were horizontal and how many were vertical. More than 21 artists signed on at the beginning, but a few dropped out at the end. I couldn’t plan the layout until all the art arrived. Ultimately, I designed the project for 21 works on 8 panels. I planned to assemble the panels in Albuquerque into an open 3 dimensional box, 2 rows high on 4 sides. One side had text on the top row, and 3 works of art on the bottom row. The three remaining panels had 6 works each in a double row.  The project had to be flat to travel and assembled on site. The 8 panels were cut to 14 x 38 inches from 3 sheets of  light weight black FoamCore board.

Kathleen Kuchar took the image (above) at the hotel in Albuquerque. It shows two sides of the installation. You see on the left there is text and 3 images. The image to the right shows part of the 6 images in two rows. The image below shows one side of the installation with 6 images, followed by 6 close up views of the individual artist’s works.

Notice there are printed artist statements on the black tablecloth in front of the installation. Several SLMM artists included comments with their art work.

Above collage is by Gordana Vukovic (Slingerlands, NY), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches, acrylic and assorted papers. I am sure I sent her the green painted paper seen on the lower right. Notice a tiny half circle of the printed red dot tissue paper in the center.


Above collage is by Marie Cummings (Treadwell, NY), Untitled, 8.5 x 11 inches, acrylic and assorted papers. Marie included an artist statement: I see life as multi-faceted, richly textured and complex and my art reflects that perception. Ultimately, I hope viewers feel this expressive freedom when they see my work. I want people to delight in the colors and whimsy, to experience a sense of happiness, to enjoy this reminder of what it means to be alive.”


Above collage is by Ellen Reinkraut (Franklin Lakes, NJ), titled The Horizon, 11 x 8.5 inches, acrylic and assorted papers. Notice Ellen used red printed text and painting.


Above collage is by Joya Maxwell (Wakefield, RI), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches, collage with assorted papers and hand lettering. I am pretty sure I included yellow hand-made paper in the packet, seen in the upper left corner. Joya included a  printed image of a hummingbird and added the words spirit, thoughts and feelings in her own hand.


Above collage is by Suzan Kraus (Newbury, OH), titled Three, 11 x 8.5 inches, collage with assorted papers. In this image you see the shared white dot on red and black squiggle on black shared tissue paper, plus shared acid green painted papers.


Above collage is by Susan Lince (Chaska, MN), titled Homage to the Birches, 11 x 8.5 x .5 inches. Susan included the shared green and yellow papers and added real moss and birch wood to her work. This work drew a lot of attention because of its message.

How I Assembled the Project:

Before I show you more images, let me tell you how I prepared the project. I had to wait until all the art arrived to determine how the works would be assembled and what work went next to another. I curated the project like an exhibition on a wall, except I planned the project as a table top installation. I wanted the works to look well together as guests walked around all four sides. The project had to be sturdy but light. It had to be assembled and disassembled because I had to travel with it. FoamCore was a good choice for the support because it was light, came in large sheets and could be cut to size. I was able to purchase black Foam Core and attached the art to the boards before I left NY for Albuquerque. I glued the text to one panel and glued “labels” under each art work, but used double sided tape to attach the art. I wanted to be able to separate the art from the boards so I could return the works to the artists. I discovered the double sided tape was not strong enough for the heavier collages, so I had to reattach quite a few with heavier tape when I arrived in Albuquerque. I cut glassine paper to the panel size, and placed a sheet in between each panel to protect the art while it traveled. The wrapped package was about 40 x 14 x 10 inches high. It didn’t weigh that much and I was able to place the package in the overhead compartment on the plane. At the hotel in Albuquerque, my roommate, Terri MacDonald (Hays, KS) helped me assemble the 8 panels into a 3 dimensional installation with four sides and two rows per side. It became a double-decker box (open on the inside) with the art work facing out.  I used 8 wood slats to support the inside (back) of the assembled FoamCore panels. I traveled with the wood and the 8 panels together. Thank you Terri for helping me get this project assembled! We placed the installation on a round banquet table in the hotel meeting room our group used for all the events, workshop and banquet dinner.

See 6 images below of works by individual artists. I didn’t get a good image of the 6 works together, but include an image of 3 works in one row so you see how 3 works looked next to each other.

Above collage is by Sylvia Bowers (Columbus, OH), titled Variations on a Theme, 11 x 8.5 inches. I think Sylvia painted yellow and ecru white stripes in her background and then pasted papers on top.

Above collage is by Valerie Lewis Mankoff (Kinnelon, NJ), titled Between Generations. I believe this collage includes painting on the back and a family photo of Valerie and her grandson.


Above collage is by Patricia Tuglus (Oak Brook, IL now living in Asheville, NC), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches. This collage includes  a yellow and black painted background and yellow, red and blue hand-made papers. I see an image of a house in a cloudy, turbulent landscape. I see tiny pieces of black squiggle tissue papers that we shared. It looks like some of the hand-made papers are torn by hand. I see soft edges in the cloud shapes.


The view (above) shows the 3 works by Sylvia Bowers, Valerie Lewis Mankoff and Patricia Tuglus that were attached to the top row of the panel. Golden yellow is the unifying color. The 3 works (below) by Alice Harrison, Nancy Marculewicz and Catherine Keebler were on the bottom row of the same panel, seen left to right.


Above collage is by Alice Harrison (Morristown, NJ), titled CONNECTIONS, 8.5 x 11 inches. Alice cut and glued multi-color papers into a spiral shape that travels across the horizontal space in her work. It would be interesting to know a little more about the images of the buildings and other collage elements.

Above collage is by Nancy Marculewicz (Peabody, MA), 11 x 8.5 inches. Nancy wrote she started the collage, stopped working, feeling frustrated, unable to get inspired by the papers included in the packet. She decided to reread the instructions and realized she could incorporate some pieces of her own monotypes in the project piece. She said she felt like she had entered a special zone and now she knew exactly what to do and how to do it. She says she will continue to re-work old monotypes with new media. Nancy is the author of the book titled Making Monotypes Using a Gelatin Plate.

Above collage is by Catherine Keebler (Chicago, IL), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches, acrylic, glitter and assorted papers. If you see this work in person, it looks like a tapestry with rich texture and tiny patterns. The light green paper that looks like a grape cluster was included in the packet I sent.

Comments about the Art Project

Northeast and Midwest regional SLMM members asked me if people at the meeting commented on the works in our display. There were lots of comments – I wish I wrote them all down. Here are two very thoughtful comments: “Exhibitions of layered art demonstrate a subtle affirmation that serves as a leavening in this time of extreme divisiveness and chaos” and “Every time you create a work the universe expands and connects more.”

Following are images by 6 more artists in the project. The first image is a view of all 6 works in 2 rows on the panel. The works in the top row, left to right, are by Sharon Eley, Anne L. Morgan and Mary Kralj.  The works in the bottom row, left to right are by Mary Ann Beckwith, Ruth Bauer Neustadter and Patricia McCandless.

Collage above is by Sharon Eley (Chillicothe, OH), titled A MAN’S WORLD, 11 x 8.5 inches, with pencil, pen, mixed media and assorted papers. It’s hard to see, but there is a small, round metal object in the center of the collage.

Collage above is by Anne L. Morgan (Grand Haven, MI), Untitled, 8.5 x 11 inches. Notice the cursive hand writing, red pencil, painting and collage. I see a sliver of the shared tissue paper with white dots on red plus other dotted tissue papers.

Collage above is by Mary Kralj (Silver Springs, MD), titled UNSPOKEN, 11 x 8.5 inches.  Notice there is vertical script in the center. The work includes painting, paper collage and gold leaf. Mary wrote she included a block of “asemic” writing (in the center). She added: “The piece was intended to convey a number of contrasts to hopefully generate a sense of centererd energy beyond our everyday left brain search for verbal meaning.”

Collage above is by Mary Ann Beckwith (Hancock, MI), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches. Notice the woven strips of cut papers that intersect with a metal ring.  Purple is the dominant color. Notice  circles, dots and squares throughout. See purple dots on tan paper tucked behind the metal ring. The purple dotted paper was included in the shared packet.


Collage above is by Ruth Bauer Neustadter (Hackensack, NJ), Untitled, 8.5 x 11 inches, acrylic and mixed media. This work is lush and highly textured with paint and media. The dotted strips sparkle.

Collage above is by Patricia McCandless (Paoli, PA), titled PAPER SOLO, 11 x 8.5 inches. This collage is created with cut paper and the amount of cut papers is amazing. The text on the bottom reads: “Into Penns Woods”  – No Paint – No Pen – No Ink –  Only Layers of Exquisite Paper.


Here is information about the Albuquerque SLMM conference. Laura Pope, Southwest regional coordinator and her crew, organized a spectacular 3-day event.

We arrived and checked into the Hotel Albuquerque on Wednesday, September 20th. During the day I attended a Board of Directors meeting as a regional coordinator. At 5:30 pm we gathered  for an informal reception at a hotel outdoor pavilion.  SLMM President Jaleh Etemad welcomed assembled members and guests to the meeting. The weather was warm and gorgeous.

The 3-day itinerary included a bus trip to Santa Fe to see art, a day to visit the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Museum, a creative workshop inspired by images from Petroglyph National Park in Albuquerque, NM, and a banquet dinner with a Flamenco dance performance. It was a great time to reconnect with friends. I’ve visited Albuquerque and Santa Fe previously and love the art and energy in the Southwest U.S. Three days is never enough.

I didn’t walk Canyon Road. (I’ve done it before). Instead, I spent 2 hours at Meow Wolf, a converted bowling alley that’s become an immense, immersive art installation. The current installation is called the House of Eternal Return. Read about it here. SLMM Southwest regional members recommended Meow Wolf as the place to see in Santa Fe. I’m so glad I did. The image above is Terri MacDonald (Hays, KS) in the long entry corridor looking up at the lights. I took iPhone photos in every room, stairwell and corridor at Meow Wolf. I was standing on a balcony here. Everywhere you look is a light show, bursting with color, fantasy and technology. Over 100 local artists collaborated in the design.

I also didn’t stop at museums on Museum Hill or visit galleries as our tour bus made a loupe around the art venues in Santa Fe. I visited the New Mexico Capitol Rotunda Gallery to see an exhibition of handmade artists’ books by members of the Santa Fe Book Arts Group (titled Portable Magic: The Art of the Book, through December 15, 2017).

The Capitol building is also an arts venue. The state of NM is a proud arts patron. I was so glad I visited the Capital building. I saw paintings, prints, tapestries, etc. by established NM artists on several floors in the building.

Our SLMM Albuquerque conference included a group art workshop inspired by petroglyphs and a talk by Dr. Matthew Schmader who spoke about rock art’s place in human and cultural history. Petroglyph National Monument is located on the West Mesa in Albuquerque, NM. They say the park is a Landscape of Symbols – one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, featuring designs and symbols carved onto volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400-700 years ago. Read more here. I’ve been to Petroglyph National Monument. It’s fabulous.

We visited the National Hispanic Cultural Center and were treated to a wonderful docent tour. We saw a huge installation of piñatas. The image here is Mary Carroll Nelson, SLMM founder. She’s wearing an orange hat and standing under the piñatas at the NHCC. The back wall behind Mary is a huge installation with pinata tissue papers.






On the same day we visited the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Museum and saw world-renowned historic and contemporary Pueblo pottery, baskets, weaving, painting, murals, jewelry and photos. The image here is of me standing next to a Pueblo statue.  Do you think we look alike? Did you notice we have the same hairstyle? Our evening itinerary included a banquet and a Flamenco performance by an ensemble of young, talented and passionate dancers.



Here are 3 final images that show SLMM regional art projects.

The image above is Mary Carroll Nelson (photo courtesy Kathleen Kuchar) . She’s looking at a portfolio of art brought to Albuquerque by members of the Pacific/Canada Region. I also had a chance to view the works and hold the art in my hand. Very special.

The image above (courtesy Kathleen Kuchar) is a wall installation at the Albuquerque hotel – individual paintings and mixed media works attached together with rings. The works are by SLMM members of the Southwest/West/International region.

The image above is a wall installation titled “Reflection of Myself” – all 12 x 12s – done by SLMM members from the Deep South/South Central region (the work is currently at St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre, St. Peters, MO).  The exhibition was curated and organized by Shirley Nachtrieb, regional coordinator for the Deep South/South Central region. The works weren’t installed at the hotel in Albuquerque – I got this image from Kathleen Kuchar, but I’ve included it here to show art from all the SLMM regional members.


I traveled back to NY with the art re-wrapped as a flat parcel, tucked into the overhead compartment on the plane. I disassembled the project at my studio, took new photos of the individual works, and then sent the art back to their owners.

It’s your turn: Please add your comments. Email me. Tell me if you’ve heard about Meow Wolf and have visited Santa Fe or Albuquerque, NM.  Do you have comments about the art seen here? Have you visited Petroglyph National Park, the National Hispanic Cultural Center or the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Museum?

Thank you again to Laura Pope and her team who organized this fabulous meeting. Here is a link to the SLMM website to learn more about the SLMM Premise and membership. The 2018 national meeting will take place in Tacoma, WA next year in late August.


3 thoughts on “CONNECTIONS in Albuquerque, NM

  1. Nancy: Good job. Terrific writeup on conference. Great photos and wonderful hairstyle! Lol. Love Santa Fe and everything about it- the art, petroglyphs, canyon road and restaurants. And one of my granddaughters lives there! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Nancy, thank you for this delightfully conceptual travelogue! I loved following your thoughts and footsteps during the entire process …the preparation, the experience, and your insightful reflections. Through the artwork itself, you’ve lead the viewer through a wonderful visual and spiritual journey!

    Karen Van Hooser
    SLMM Executive Administrator

  3. Thanks Nancy for such a great write up on the project and meeting activities. Good to see all the pieces and set up. Deanna Funk

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