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September 17, 2012
NMSBA Makes an Explosive Impact on Art

The work of artist and Santa Fe native Nicola López explores how human-built constructions like cities, buildings and technologies grow organically and become increasingly complex over time. “Like the Tower of Babel, the complexity is an immense opportunity that becomes more and more difficult to manage,” says López. “There is an element of destruction here which gave me the idea to use explosives in my works.”

López wanted to explore a new print making technique by using explosives to etch metal. Through the New Mexico Small Business Assistance (NMSBA) program, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) scientist Bryce Tappan assisted López and fellow artist Gandalf Gaván in transferring original drawings to copper plates through an explosive impact. The resulting prints are titled Ideal Structures for a Dubious Future. Tappan also assisted López and Gaván in explosively blast loading welded metal structures. The structures themselves and videos of the explosions will be featured in upcoming exhibitions.

López found working with Tappan and NMSBA to be particularly rewarding. “I had the opportunity to engage with art in a new way,” says López. “Working collaboratively with a scientist informed the work in wonderful ways that I did not anticipate.” For Tappan’s part, it was both unique and important for NMSBA to provide technical assistance to an artist. “Art is central to the culture and economy of New Mexico,” says Tappan. “The project helped reinforce the idea that art and science complement and support each other.”

Ideal Structures for a Dubious Future is part of López’s Notes on the Tower exhibition, which runs through December 22, 2012 at the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque. Notes on the Tower is part of ISEA2012 and will be featured in an open house at the Tamarind Institute on Saturday, September 22, 2012 from 4:30 to 7:30 pm. For more information, visit or