How Keshet helps teens create moments of liberation while incarcerated

Photos of “Movement for Mercy” by Pat Berrett, courtesy of Keshet. Sign photo via Google Maps. Fence photo by Patrick Hendry via Unsplash

A dozen teenagers laugh as they practice their dance — one of them stumbles, throwing off the choreography. Time to rehearse from the top.

Their dance teacher laughs with them before calling for attention. With only a few weeks left in the semester, their final performance is almost here. Five, six, seven, eight!

At a glance, this might look like any other dance rehearsal at any other school. But this isn’t a school you can glance inside: It’s a state-run youth lockdown facility. The teens wear matching rec clothes, and their class is monitored by corrections staff and security cameras.


ABQ Artwalk celebrates three years of community engagement

A row of masked “artwalkers” enjoy an outdoor concert in downtown Albuquerque during an Artwalk event, summer 2020. Photo by Frank D, courtesy of ABQ Artwalk via the Ruppe’s “Neighborhood” project.

ABQ Artwalk is on a mission. The organization wants to get you — yes, you — to experience local art.

Its scrappy team of just a few staffers has come up with a simple but challenging formula. They recruit a neighborhood’s worth of shops, bars, and restaurants to participate as venues, then connect them with a region’s worth of painters, sculptors, and jewelers. Once they’ve booked the food trucks and hired the street performers, it all goes on the map.

The result: An epic night of food, music, and fun to which the whole city is invited.

Some arts organizations…


Discover a world of creativity at Albuquerque’s newest artist collective

As the Art and Soul Collective puts the final touches on their new space in Cottonwood Mall, cofounders Kyle O. Street (center) and Shennon Morgan (right) have put out the call: ARTISTS WANTED! Skull painting by Ariel Rivera. Photos via Instagram / Courtesy of the Art and Soul Collective

The countdown had begun. At 9:05 a.m., the man in the silver spacesuit would press the button.

He had protective lenses in place — not over his eyes, but on his DSLR camera. On his head, he wore only his custom helmet.

As the moon gradually eclipsed the sun, he held his breath, hoping to capture the moment before a blaze of solar light flared out again. The shutter clicked in the nick of time. He got the photo.

This spaceman-photographer, who goes by Voyager or Kyle O. Street, had practiced photography since his days apprenticing at a headshot studio…


From sea to sand to Zoom with historian Nicolasa Chávez

A photo collage featuring an adobe church surrounded by photos of Semana Santa rites in Sevilla, Spain / Photos courtesy of Sean Quillen on Unsplash and Getty Images via Canva

Spring is here in New Mexico, bringing with it the annual rites of Holy Week — in Spanish, Semana Santa.

From Jerusalem to Rome, Madrid to Manila, as Christianity spread around the globe over the centuries, diverse and far-flung communities began marking the anniversary of Christ’s passion and crucifixion. Along the way, they’ve infused its observation with regional traditions like parades, song, feasting, and prayer.

Enter Nicolasa Chávez, a scholar of cultures with an emphasis on Spanish and Spanish-influenced customs. …


The artist talks gray areas and purple paint

Artist Noé Barnett wears a sweatshirt emblazoned with the word “CREATE” in lettering as colorful as his floral paintings. Photos courtesy of the artist

Noé Barnett had his whole life planned out: Graduate from the Albuquerque Police Academy. Serve as an armed officer of the law. Buy a house. At a predetermined time, leave the local force to follow in his father’s footsteps by joining the Military Police.

“When I got fired — ” Barnett pauses to laugh softly. “It’s funny now, but in the moment, that was probably the lowest point of my life. I remember just going home and crying.”

After finishing high school in Albuquerque, where he was born and raised, Barnett signed up as a Police Service Aid (PSA). For…


The journey to find his political voice — and the confidence to use it

From portraits to murals to jewelry, Joeseph Arnoux has worked in many forms over the years. Photos courtesy of the artist

Joeseph Arnoux’s artwork wasn’t always political. His earliest drawings mostly expressed his personal state of mind as a teen.

“I had this idea of pop culture art from my friends in Michigan,” Arnoux says of his formative years. “I was the only Native. I didn’t grow up around Natives or around my tribe, so I was very displaced from that tribal identity.”

That changed when he took it upon himself to investigate his heritage as an adult, deepening his sense of history and politics.

“It slowly adapted into this more Native and activist art,” he says. “I find it hard…


Fiber artist Erin Schoch on big leaps and small dreams

Erin Schoch along with a few of her macramé pieces and her fiber arts logo. Photos courtesy of the artist

We live in anxious times. From pandemics to politics, wildfires to winter storms, no one knows what we’ll find beyond the front door tomorrow — or whether it’ll be safe to step outside at all.

When home feels like our only refuge, we may want it to feel extra homey. Warm colors. Natural elements. Soft clothes and blankets.

Enter Take Care Textiles.

The online shop’s name says it all: this is a haven of fiber arts, handcrafted with care by Albuquerque artist Erin Schoch.

Her plant hangers cradle succulents midair while “plant rugs” serve as coasters for pots below. Macramé…


Music as an act of self-determination

The three sisters pose in a glamorous mix of fringe, feathers, and gold jewelry with sand dunes and distant mountains behind them.
The three sisters pose in a glamorous mix of fringe, feathers, and gold jewelry with sand dunes and distant mountains behind them.
Photo by Ernie Zahn, courtesy of the artists

What are you?

It’s an existential question faced by humans around the world. Do you define yourself by a job or hobby? By relationships — daughter, partner, friend? Maybe your introduction includes your clan or country?

The three women of the Cuylear family have, for as long as they can remember, identified as sisters.

They were there for each other as children in a sometimes tumultuous home with substance use issues. They stuck together through their teens, even as they left town, one by one, to attend university.

Along the way, they started identifying as musicians, too. They’re “21st century…


Artist Alicia Sosa-Provencio talks heritage, motherhood, and a world of color

Alicia Sosa-Provencio at work in her studio, where the wall is filled with the vivid colors of her previous paintings. Photo courtesy of the artist

The vision came to her after she had her first baby.

Like many new mothers — maybe all — Alicia Sosa-Provencio felt herself being consumed by her new role as life-giver and caretaker.

Figuratively, parenting ate up her time and energy, prompting her to leave her teaching job. Literally, her body labored to turn her own lifeforce into milk for the newborn.

The image she saw, as she spent the days with her infant son: the Mother of God, with her own son suckling in her arms.

“I’ve had this vision in me to paint this breastfeeding Virgin Mary since…


An Indigenous-led exhibition transcends whitewashed national narratives

The Albuquerque Museum’s virtual entrance to the online exhibition.
Photo: Anthony Louderbough, “Demonstrators with Indian Power and Geronimo Signs,” March 31, 1973.
Courtesy of the Albuquerque Museum

The seed of an idea

Rebecca Prinster was pursuing her master’s at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in 2019 when Dr. Nick Estes visited her Critical Indigenous Studies class.

“Dr. Estes spoke with our class about Indigenous resistance,” Prinster recalled in a phone interview for Southwestness. That resistance takes many forms nowadays, from the #NoDAPL movement whose water protectors garnered international coverage in 2016, to local protests against the Entrada or conquistador statues.

“He talked about how people think that the activism that’s going on now just came out of nowhere,” she continued. …

Karie Luidens

I’m an Albuquerque-based writer of criticism, commentary, current events, and semi-connected musings. She/her. karieluidens.com

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