516 ARTS names first Native American curator - Albuquerque Journal

516 ARTS names first Native American curator

Rachelle B. Pablo

bright spotGallup-born Rachelle B. Pablo (Diné) is the first Native American curator at 516 ARTS.

Pablo grew up helping her grandmother gather the wool for her weaving. The arts were imbued within her culture.

“It was mesmerizing to see my grandmother; she didn’t work out her designs on a piece of paper,” she said.

“This has been an extensive journey that began in 2011,” she continued. “I was a former tradesman within Local 49 (the sheetmetal union.) And the recession occurred and I took that opportunity to continue my education.”

A U.S. Army veteran, Pablo holds a master’s degree in art history from the University of Delaware, a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Institute of American Indian Arts in studio arts with a minor in museum studies and a certificate in business and entrepreneurship. She also has an associate of arts in anthropology and liberal arts degree from Central New Mexico Community College.

“I hope to contribute authentic interpretations of Indigenous art and contribute insight from the Native American perspective into art in general,” Pablo said. “516 ARTS is already a part of that. I feel that art is an international language.”

Pablo completed a curatorial fellowship program at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts and has performed a variety of internships and projects at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. and at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe.

Her father owned horses. Pablo fondly remembers accompanying him to pick up the horseshoes.

“The horsemen or the ranch lifestyle, a lot of art is included,” she said. “It’s a lifestyle; it’s a work of art. There’s a lot of leather work; they forged metal for our ranches.”

Pablo also serves as a board member of IndigenousWays, a nonprofit organization focusing on music, arts, outreach and community events.

The position is supported in part by a grant to 516 ARTS from the Henry Luce Foundation in their area of Native American Intellectual Leadership.

“Rachelle’s focus on Indigenous art is a great fit with our long-time priority of centering Native artists,” executive director Suzanne Sbarge said. “She brings scholarship on Native American art, understanding of the complexities of cultures in New Mexico and varied life experiences to the job.”

Founded in 2006, 516 ARTS is a noncollecting contemporary art museum with a strong history of putting Indigenous artists and curators into its programming.

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