Friday, November 28, 2008

Margaret Archuleta Interview

Starting a new endeavor is both exhilarating and a bit daunting. The night before the Margaret Archuleta Interview I wake up and go through the “to do” list. ‘Questions for the interview typed out and in my folder by the door,' Check. 'Everybody’s confirmed to be at the right place, at the right time,' Check. I’m certain I’ve missed something and proceed to torment myself by playing the, “What have I forgotten?” game. That’s the “daunting” part of starting a new endeavor, navigating the first steps of a vision.

In the morning with the truck loaded and everything seemingly on track, we head out to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Margaret Archuleta interview.

Margaret Archuleta was a selector for the NMAI outdoor Sculpture Competition. She and other selectors reviewed applications and made selections on the finalists. In making a final decision, the selector’s thoughts turned toward important issues surrounding the competition. Issues like possible sculpture sites on the NMAI grounds, what the selected piece would represent for the museum and how the sculpture responded to the competition's prospectus.

Margaret is a Ph.D. candidate in Art History/Native Art History at the University of New Mexico. Ms. Archuleta‘s curatorial experience at The Heard Museum culminated in the successful “Remembering Our Indian School Days” exhibit which looked at government boarding schools. Archuleta also curated an exhibition of Contemporary Native Art at the White House entitled, “Honoring Native America”.

The first thing I noticed when coming into Ms. Archuleta’s house were the books. Books stacked on tables, books piled on her computer’s desk, lining the walls and filling the house. It’s clear why Margaret was chosen by NMAI to be a selector for the sculpture competition. Besides her professional experience, Margaret’s innate curiosity and ongoing learning process offers a unique and insightful perspective.

Margaret’s house is small so almost immediately there was quite a discussion on how to set up the shoot and effectively compose the visual aspects of the interview. In the end the camera was set up in the kitchen and and Archuleta sat in the dinning area converted into a study/office space. We constructed a back drop using a large painting by Native artist, Kay Walking Stick. Using some of the thicker books for weight, we placed lights around and under Margaret’s desk for better lighting. After the set up and a few glitches, we shot the interview.

Here are some of the questions we asked Ms. Archuleta:

1. Tell me about your experience with Contemporary Native Art?

2. Tell me about your curatorial experience at the Heard in Arizona, and with the White House?

3. What kind of ideas about art did you bring into the NMAI Sculpture Competition selection process?

4. Explain the Dawes Act to me...

5. When and how did government take an active role in determining the kind of art Native people made?

6. Where do you see Native Art in ten years?

Of course the questions were meant to jump start the conversation and like most interviews, the answers flowed here and there into related and non related issues. Here’s where the “exhilarating” part of making a film kicks in. Once everything is set up and at last the camera is rolling, the thrill of knowing spontaneous thoughts that have been captured on camera will be pieced together with visuals and sounds to tell a story, making the experience ripe with exhilarating.


I want to thank Margaret for opening up her home and generously giving us so much of her time on that day.

I also want to thank the Margaret Archuleta Interview crew members for their patience and much appreciated help -
Jai Antonio
Zak Naranjo Morse

Next blog I’ll introduce you to Dax Thomas who is the main camera man and editor on this project.

Finally, after a long day of filming, we celebrated the first steps of making Always Becoming...


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Global Links

November 1, 2008

In October I was asked by the international art organization, Res Artis to be one of three key note speakers at their annual meeting held in Amsterdam. Res Artis is a worldwide networking organization that connects artists to residential art centers. The residencies can be for short periods of time or not, in large cities or not. the idea of Res Artis is to offer the artist an opportunity to create and communicate outside of the box in a variety of location throughout the world. Meeting artists and organizers from all over the world was important for me at this stage of my career. I met artists like Roel Schoenmakers who recently traveled to African communities that had little or no infrastructure and started creating artful playgrounds with recycled materials. Because of Roel’s creative approach and vision, tires, used wooden planks and plastic netting created a small soccer arenas, benches and swimming hole. Roel invited community participation reestablishing a communal sensibility in another wise fragile environment. This kind of community activism resonated among the tribally based people in these African communities, giving them a sense of accomplishment and cohesiveness as a community.

I mention the Res Artis experience because after the remarkable experience of Always Becoming, I began asking,’ what next?’ How does the spirit and creative momentum of Always Becoming evolve into a larger format that can be seen and experienced by even more people. ‘How do I connect with a global community of artists who are using their creativity in their communities?’. The people I met and spoke with in Amsterdam opened a door for me that offered a new level of understanding while introducing me to a worldwide audience. The opportunity of hearing what artists are doing in other parts of the world and sharing the pod casts of Always Becoming, I learned that Always Becoming, like Roel’s efforts in Africa have enormous potential in the area of community based art projects. Until my trip to Amsterdam I wondered if community based art projects really made a lasting difference, now I know.

As we prepare for our first interview with Margaret Archuleta - curator and selector in the NMAI Sculpture Competition - I’m even more certain and energized with the thought that our one hour film will make important and lasting connections to a global audience.

In my next installment, we’ll have details of the interview with Margaret Archuleta and clips to share of our interview.