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Grants awarded to aid 16 Native artists

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe has put together a new initiative to support intergenerational learning and creativity.

The institution developed SAR Learns!, which is aimed to inspire new work and assist with knowledge transmission specifically within the context of the ongoing pandemic.

Nanibaa Beck (Diné) will record interviews with her paternal relatives in Pinon, Arizona.

The program will distribute $50,000, utilizing redirected grant funds, that will enable 16 artists to launch or complete a variety of proposed projects.

“As the pandemic continued to progress over the course of the last year and opportunities to sell work continued to be limited,” said Elysia Poon, director of SAR’s Indian Arts Research Center (IARC). “It became increasingly apparent how much the artist community, especially the Native artist community, was struggling. From our conversations with artists, we saw how this, in addition to the stress of the pandemic impacting Native communities at higher rates, heightened the need to respond in a direct way.”

Jason Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo/Tewa) will be working with his parents and teenage daughter to transfer the knowledge of pottery making within his family.

According to Meredith Schweitzer, SAR director of public programs and communications, the idea stemmed from artists losing out on events such as Indian Market and the institution wanted to help.

“They asked all of our former SAR Native artists fellows to submit ideas for projects,” Schweitzer said. “They had a series of applications and they were able to fund all but one of the applications in some capacity. Being able to support the community is part of our mission.”

Melissa Henry (Diné) will create a Navajo-language version of her film “This Is a Hogan” (originally in English) and also turn it into an e-book.

The selected artists will be utilizing COVID-safe measures through the duration of their projects.

SAR’s IARC hosts three Native American artists each year for a residential fellowship. Over 80 artists have participated in these fellowships.

Poon said the new project is much needed.

“The resiliency and strength of the artists and communities we work with is immense,” Poon said. “It is a true privilege to be able to support so many projects during these trying times, and we are thankful to our funders for their willingness to work with us to redirect our restricted programmatic funding to better assist and more immediately serve the current needs of Native artists.”

Max Early (Laguna Pueblo) will be working with a small group of Laguna community members, ages 5 to 85, on a pottery class. (

The awardees are as follows:

• Venancio Aragon (Diné) will be creating a lending library of weaving materials, equipment and educational literature for the benefit of his community.

• Nanibaa Beck (Diné) will record interviews with her paternal relatives in Pinon, Arizona.

• Aric Chopito (Zuni Pueblo) will work with his twin sons to create a full-size Pueblo turkey-feather blanket.

• Brent Michael Davids (Stockbridge-Munsee Band of the Mohican Nation) will research and compose a new movement of his large work, “Requiem for America.” This new movement will focus on the Navajo Long Walk, as well as the genocidal exploits of Kit Carson.

• Max Early (Laguna Pueblo) will be working with a small group of Laguna community members, ages 5 to 85, on a pottery class.

• Jason Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo/Tewa) will be working with his parents and teenage daughter to transfer the knowledge of pottery making within his family.

• Louie Garcia (Tiwa/Piro Pueblo) will be teaching a virtual Pueblo weaving class for roughly 10 pueblo youth to further expand the intergenerationality of Pueblo weaving traditions.

• Wayne Nez Gaussoin (Diné/Picuris Pueblo) will engage youth in oral history projects with their own families.

• Melissa Henry (Diné) will create a Navajo-language version of her film “This Is a Hogan” (originally in English) and also turn it into an e-book.

• Harold Littlebird (Laguna/Kewa Pueblos) will record his unpublished poetry into CD format, which will be his fourth recording.

• Estella Loretto (Jemez Pueblo) will be working with her daughter and granddaughter to create a piece that involves their thoughts about love, strength, family traditions, and values.

• Jonathan Loretto (Cochiti/Jemez Pueblos) will be working with multiple generations in his community to create a three-panel room divider that reflects the situation we currently face.

• Duane Maktima (Laguna Pueblo/Hopi) will be researching Southwest mosaic shell and beadwork jewelry.

• Nora Naranjo-Morse (Santa Clara Pueblo/Tewa) will create a series of five one-hour interviews, podcast style, to record the life experience of Pueblo elders who are teachers, artists, and thinkers.

• Ulysses Reid (Zia Pueblo) will be mentoring his daughter and niece in the process of making traditional Zia pottery.

• Kathleen Wall (Jemez Pueblo) will conduct community-based research on the historic events, cases, and trials relating to the land claim for the Valles Caldera.





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