New Mexico State University art student Analinda Gonzalez has turned one of the hardest experiences of her life into an impactful piece of art. Inspired by her father’s deportation at a young age, her painting “Separated” has been selected as one of 40 finalists for this year’s AXA Art Prize competition.
More than 400 submissions from 125 different schools were reviewed by regional jurors of the Strategic Advisory Board’s 34 major art schools and programs across the country, including the Rhode Island School of Design and Columbia University School of Arts.
Gonzalez’s artwork will be exhibited virtually and in-person in New York City at the New York Academy of Art in November. The 40 finalists are also in the running to be considered for a first prize of $10,000 and second prize of $5,000 to be selected by a panel of artists.
Born in Los Angeles, Calif., Gonzalez moved to El Paso after her father was deported when she was four-years-old.
“Much of my work expresses the personal impact of socio-political issues, specifically immigration,” Gonzalez said. “This piece expresses the pain and perseverance caused by my father’s deportation.”
“Understanding how controversial this topic is, I choose not to comment on the underlying structural issue of our immigration system, but rather shed light on my father’s story. The image of my father depicts his initial stoicism that belies a deep sadness expressed in his eyes.”
The AXA Art Prize, launched in 2017, is considered one of the premier student art competitions in the U.S. The event is open to figurative paintings, drawings and prints made by undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in art courses across the country.
The 40 finalists are a diverse group of young artists from 27 different schools across the nation and 60 percent of this year’s finalists are women.
Supported by her mentor Craig Cully, NMSU associate professor of painting and drawing in the College of Arts and Sciences, Gonzalez submitted her painting to be considered for the prize.
After three months of waiting, Gonzalez was surprised by the news.
“My initial reaction was confusion because I was unable to believe that one of my paintings was going to be exhibited in New York City, the art capital of the world,” Gonzalez said. “I am truly honored and look forward to representing my school in this show. This is a great opportunity for me to receive exposure and engage with the broader discourse of art.”
Sometimes Gonzalez paints for up to six hours a day in the art studio. After transferring to NMSU from El Paso Community College, Gonzalez has been in NMSU’s program for one year, but has already felt the impact of Cully’s mentorship and the support of NMSU’s art department.
“Craig Cully has shown so much dedication in providing his students with great opportunities. I admire his strong work ethic and am inspired by his meticulous, realistic style.”
With the support of her professors and the art department, Gonzalez said she has grown as an artist in a short time.
“The competitive atmosphere of the art department along with the new, spacious art building has motivated me to further push myself to create stronger pieces and encouraged me to make use of the resources provided in the department.”
After her graduation next spring, Gonzalez hopes to use her talents to become a forensic artist, allowing her to use what she’s learned to help other people use art to cope with tragedy.
“I am working towards becoming a forensics artist because I want my art to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Much of my work is victim driven and I want to help those in desperate situations by utilizing my passion for art.”