Highlands Receives NM Humanities Council Grant for Local History Video Project


New Mexico Highlands University received a grant from the New Mexico Humanities Council to create a groundbreaking public video art installation in the historic Las Vegas Plaza. The project is aimed at generating early interest in New Mexico’s statehood and 2012 centennial.  The video art project features lively monologues from local actors depicting 24 Las Vegas-area historical figures dating from 1846, when New Mexico became a U.S. territory, to statehood in 1912.The multi-video art installation is a first of its kind for Las Vegas and will be housed in the windows of the Charles Ilfeld expansion of the Plaza Hotel.  Surrounded by this building and other Las Vegas architectural treasures, night-time passersby will view these historical characters on video as they appear inside the building’s turn-of-the century window frames.  The video art project is called, “Almas de la Plaza – Spirits of the Plaza.”  It is scheduled to be installed in December and run through January 2009.  An event sometime in December will introduce the project to the public. Highlands University professor Robert Drummond applied for the N.M. Humanities Council grant. He teaches digital videography, sound design, multimedia project management, and film history in the university’s Media Arts Program. Students from Drummond’s Design Projects for the Community class this semester are creating the public video art project under his direction.   “Our media arts students are working on every aspect of the project, including research, scheduling casting calls and shoots, videography, production and installation,” Drummond said. “With a project of this scale, there’s a fine line between enthusiasm and trepidation. This week it becomes real as we head into production.”In addition to the $3,886 grant from the N.M. Humanities Council, Drummond said the public art project received a total of $5,000 in in-kind and cash contributions from the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, the San Miguel/Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, and New Mexico Highlands University.  MainStreet Las Vegas is the designated 501-C3 for the project.”This public art project involves exciting collaboration from the Las Vegas community,” Drummond said. “We’re grateful to our sponsors from the Plaza Hotel, Chamber of Commerce, and our university.  The Las Vegas Citizens’ Committee for Historic Preservation was also a helpful resource for us, along with Roy Montibon at MainStreet Las Vegas. The project brings together interdisciplinary talent from different departments on campus and that’s phenomenal. History professor Peter Linder was an adviser and theater professor Robert Woods is also is also assisting us.”Wid Slick is one of the owners of the Plaza Hotel and serves on the board of directors for the Las Vegas/San Miguel Chamber of Commerce. Drummond said Slick’s support was instrumental in getting the project started.”The state designated Las Vegas as an arts and culture community, and now it’s up to us to do something about it,” Slick said. “Because our historic Las Vegas Plaza is public and highly visible, it seems like the perfect place for this Highland’s Media Arts public video art installation that focuses on our local history.”  Drummond said that every project needs the right equipment and technology to be successful, which the N.M. Humanities Council grant funding will purchase. But he stressed that the project goes well beyond technology into the realm of artistic creation.  “New Mexico itself provides spiritual, historical, cultural and aesthetic qualities that inspire a video art project like this,” Drummond said.Drummond is a video performance and installation artist who has shown his work extensively in the United States and internationally, including London and Toronto.  He earned a Master’s of Fine Arts degree from the University of California.  Drummond joined the Highlands University Media Arts faculty in January 2008.