BLOG: Art, Design & Optimism

Photo By: Kate Russell Photography

I am heartened and exhilarated about my appointment as the Chair of the Board of Trustees here at the Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI). I believe it is a pivotal time to support the vision of this amazing organization, which is strategically positioned to be an internationally recognized center, addressing complex and critical issues through creative engagement and social change. Locally, we are focused on leveraging the arts and design fields to highlight and embrace the complex histories of northern New Mexico. Each year, through our thematic programming, we welcome practitioners from around the world to creatively address our world’s most complex social problems through the arts and design.

As Executive Director of the Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative (SNCC), I’m very focused on these very issues within Native America. SNCC is a small non-profit design firm based in Santa Fe that focuses on developing the capacity of tribal communities and those working alongside tribal governments. It is a critical time to be engaged in this impactful and meaningful work of creating awareness around the issues and opportunities facing Native America, and to elevate this work, SNCC just curated an exhibit at the Corcoran School of Arts and Design at the George Washington University, entitled “Bridging Boundaries – Conversations with Native America.” The exhibit explores how architecture, art, and design practitioners are addressing the nation’s most divisive and pressing issues through community-centric design and visionary conversations that seek to question the makeup of our built environment, asking a critical question:

“How can art and design inspire social and cultural change by re-imagining these spaces as geographies of peaceful discourse and reconciliation?”

 

Bridging Boundaries – Conversations with Native America Exhibition at the Corcoran School of Arts and Design

This question is at the heart of SFAI’s upcoming theme of Truth and Reconciliation – for which we received a record number of applications this year. In the face of so many threats to justice and equality in our society, the mission of SFAI inspires me and gives me hope for positive social change. Thanks to the efforts of our Executive Director Jamie Blosser and the SFAI staff and board, SFAI continues to push the boundaries of socially engaged arts and design practice and educate the next generation of artist activists – through monthly public events such as our SFAI140 and upcoming June 9 event with Ira Glass and Storycatchers, an acknowledgement of traditional territories project, our world-renowned artist-in-residency program, and the newly launched Story Maps Fellowship.

SFAI continues to learn from the local, national, and international art and design community we serve, and made a significant shift in 2017 to go tuition-free as a response to their needs and our mission. Since that decision, SFAI has welcomed a more diverse group of residents than ever before, and we continue to shift our programming to respond to their needs. As Board Chair, I ask that any of you who are local, take time to engage with the Santa Fe Art Institute through attending our events and volunteering for SFAI – you will leave inspired and with a strong network of passionate, like-minded, and talented individuals from around the world. And to all of you, I encourage you to give to this amazing institution. It is through donations from individuals like yourself that SFAI is able to create programming that focuses on these important issues. We all owe it to ourselves and to the societies in which we live to demand equity and equality for all. SFAI is a catalyst for change and we need you – join us to help be a part of that change!

Bridging Boundaries Conversations with Native America Summer Exhibition
June through August
Corcoran School of Arts and Design, George Washington University
500 17th street, nw washington, dc 20006

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