Ronald Rael

Visiting Artist Ronald Rael on view at Albuquerque Museum.

PHOTO: Magaly

Ron Rael, born 1971 Conejos, Colorado; lives Berkeley, California, Glass Scaffold, 2022, glass rods, 3-D printed couplings, lent by the artist, Special thanks to Elliot Surber, Studio Assistant

On view now 

About the 
Albuquerque Museum 
Visiting Artist Program

Since 2011, the Visiting Artist program at Albuquerque Museum has featured contemporary artists with a connection to New Mexico. The annual program provides an invited artist the opportunity to reimagine and activate the museum’s lobby, which is the first space visitors encounter upon entering the museum. The program includes the display of the artist’s work for one year, public engagement, and artist talks. The program aims to provide a bridge between the artistic practice of the visiting artist and the experience of contemporary art by the public.

The Visiting Artist program considers artists with compelling conceptual creativity. The large scale space of the museum lobby has inspired several artists to create site-specific installations. Artists, however, are given the freedom to determine how they want to interact with the space.

2011: Gronk 

2012: Catalina Delgado Trunk

2013: Larry Bob Phillips

2014: Ernest Doty

2015: Lea Anderson

2016: Virgil Ortiz 

2017: Paul Sarkisian

2019: Karl Hofmann

2020: Nicola López

2021: Cannupa Hanska Luger




Supported by the Frederick Hammersley Fund at the Albuquerque Community Foundation

Glass Scaffold is constructed of nearly 500 glass rods salvaged from Solyndra, a start-up company that failed in 2011 because they were not able to compete with conventional solar technology. Solyndra designed, manufactured, and sold solar photovoltaic systems made of racks of cylindrical tubes which the designers claimed absorbed energy from any direction.

Ronald Rael salvaged and repurposed nearly 500 of these glass tubes for this installation. The tubes are held together with 3D-printed components. While the installation references the Solyndra debacle—an example of how even the most supported organizations can collapse, the structure also references social and economic inequality.

According to Rael, “Glass ceilings are those invisible barriers that minorities, people of color, and women experience when discrimination prevents them from rising in the hierarchies of their organization. The scaffolding in place that elevates and supports these groups is often equally as invisible and extremely fragile and precarious, often collapsing from under them.”

Ronald Rael currently serves as Affiliate Professor and Chair of Art Practice and Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a designer, architectural researcher, author, entrepreneur, and thought leader in the fields of additive manufacturing and earthen architecture. He is the author of Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary. Rael San Fratello, the studio he co-founded with architect Virginia San Fratello, was named a 2014 Emerging Voice by The Architectural League of New York—one of the most coveted awards in North American architecture. Most recently, Rael San Fratello has installed Teetertotter Wall, three pink see-saws on the US-Mexico border, named 2020 Design of the Year.


The Albuquerque Museum Visiting Artist Program is supported in part by a grant from the Frederick Hammersley Fund for the Arts at the Albuquerque Community Foundation.