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Interdisciplinary MFA Completes Residency in New Mexico

The Interdisciplinary MFA program recently completed its residency in New Mexico, where the cohort worked with renowned Santa Clara Pueblo ceramicist Roxanne Swentzell. They camped on her land, learned how to dig clay, made hand-built seed pots and fired the finished works in a pit.


“The New Mexico residency exemplifies what we do best in this grad program: provide opportunities for artists to participate deeply in the culture of sites in the Americas, while giving them the professional experience to thrive during this period of rapid changes in our field as well as the world at large,” explains Carol Padberg, director of the Interdisciplinary MFA program.

carol padberg, director of the interdisciplinary MFA program

“I dug my hands in the earth for the first time and found the dirt that called to me,” says Sto ’19. “We followed the Pueblo diet, ground the corn and planted the seeds to a deeper understanding of place and our connection with the land. We followed the water to the acequias of San Fidel with Seed Broadcast and entered into the folds of a community whose water is gold and whose philosophy of sharing we could all learn from. I soaked up so much and am still processing it all as I carry these experiences with me, back home into my daily life and into my art practice. These residencies embed you with so much that ends up growing into your work in unpredictable ways.”

Sto, MFA candidate in the Interdisciplinary MFA program

Following their time in Santa Clara, students moved to Albuquerque, where they exhibited their work with the New Mexico art community. During the last week they worked with the artist collective Seed Broadcast, in the rural community of San Fidel. There, they helped clean the acequias, or water channels, that are used in these high desert farming communities, and researched seed sovereignty issues and the biological diversity of seeds. The students are now collaborating on their contribution to Seed Broadcast’s upcoming exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum.

ceramics made by the Nomad/9 cohort in New Mexico 

“These experiences are rare in graduate studies for artists, and our students were delighted to have access to experiences that many New Mexicans may rarely encounter,” says Padberg. “Our graduate program is built on an ethic reciprocity and regenerative relationships that activate the public mission of the University of Hartford.”


“This residency has been an amazing chance to connect with different communities in New Mexico that are difficult to access as an individual,” adds Leslie Sobel MFA ’19. “We've learned so much about the traditions of Native American and old Spanish communities and how they intersect in a very special way here. Keeping old ways alive feels both modern and very traditional here in a way one doesn't see in most of the United States.”


The Interdisciplinary MFA program will be on campus this summer to present an exhibition in Joseloff Gallery. Keep an eye on our events page for more details, and follow us on social media for daily updates.