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NMSU art students create collaborative works for ‘Pin Pals’ showcase

  • By Amanda Adame
  • 575-646-7953
  • Apr. 28, 2021
man using torch
two women organizing pins

New Mexico State University art students are taking a new unique approach on the traditional pen pals – instead of exchanging letters, students created and exchanged metal brooches with artists from other universities across the Southwest. They will showcase their work in an exhibit titled, “Pin Pals.”

“Pin Pals” will be on display at the NMSU Art Department located inside Devasthali Hall. The exhibit will be open to the public until May 15 through a timed ticket reservation system, allowing up to ten people to enter in 30-minute blocks. In addition to the in-person component, the exhibit also will be featured online.

Metalworking and jewelry students from NMSU, University of Texas at El Paso, Stephen F. Austin State University and Dallas College partnered in a semester-long technical process to create and trade metal brooches.

“Getting the chance to collaborate with students from our school and the other colleges has been amazing. I have never done anything like this before,” said junior art student Tessa Bond. “Seeing the variety of different ways students approached making a pin gave me a deeper understanding of how metal casting works and the possibilities there are.”

The students created original designs by carving wax through the traditional process of lost wax casting. Each artist casted original forms in bronze and created rubber molds of the original. Students made a brooch for all their classmates and mailed their brooches to the three participating universities. 

Due to the ongoing pandemic, classes were mostly online with only some in-person meetings which posed some challenges. 

“Hybrid classes were challenging especially for casting which is a heavily technical process,” said Motoko Furuhashi, assistant professor of art in the College of Arts and Sciences. “With limited access to the studio, students were asked to work extra hard, working independently at their home studios and meeting for all the scheduled in-person activities.”

Furuhashi and the professors from the other universities created videos, project guidelines, technical tips and a “Pin Pals” Symposium, sharing their personal artwork to help their students create their pins.

Although the majority of the work was at home via Zoom, Bond still felt connected to her peers at the other universities through their artwork.

“Seeing their pins feels like seeing a part of them. I can't wait for the “Pin Pals” Zoom meeting to see if I can find out who made which pins,” Bond said.

Each school provided an exhibition space and will keep the finished pin collection for their program’s permanent collection.

“In a time where we have not been able to travel and see one another, these tiny pins have traveled hundreds of miles in order to do what jewelry is often charged to do: bring joy and be a reminder of community,” Furuhashi said.

Schedule an in-person reservation at View the exhibition online at

For more information, visit