E Pluribus Unum: El Norte
an exhibition of 1,300 portraits
The Taos Center for the Arts
145 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, NM
August 26 – October 8, 2023
Opening Reception & Roundtable Discussion
Saturday, August 26
Opening: 1:30 pm
Roundtable 3:00 - 4:00 pm
E Pluribus Unum: El Norte at TCA
The E Pluribus Unum: El Norte exhibition at The Taos Center for the Arts (TCA) will display all of the portraits made with members of 22 Northern New Mexico communities in the summer and fall of 2022.
The Roundtable Discussion at TCA
Speakers: Claire Coté, Matthew J. Martinez, Ph.D. (Ohkay Owingeh), Sabra Moore, Estevan Rael-Gálvez, Ph.D., moderated by Matthew Chase-Daniel
E Pluribus Unum: El Norte
Artists Matthew Chase-Daniel and Jerry Wellman travelled in their mobile studio-gallery, Axle Contemporary, set up at festivals, fairs, farmers markets, libraries, schools, cafes, plazas and roadsides, and invited all who came by to sit for a photographic portrait.
In each portrait, the subject/participant holds a small object, brought with her/him that holds some personal significance. Each object reveals something about the identity of that individual, and anchors the photograph in a specific time and place.
Two copies of each photograph were printed immediately onsite in Axle’s solar-powered print studio. One was given, free of charge, to the participant. The other was pasted to the exterior of the studio/gallery, creating a growing mobile public exhibition.
The project took place in Los Alamos, Espanola, Chimayo, Pojoaque, Ohkay Owingeh, Truchas, Peñasco, Dixon, Taos, El Prado, Questa, Costilla (Garcia CO), Raton, Watrous, Clayton, Roy, Mosquero, Tucumcari, Las Vegas, Mora, Abiquiu, and Chama.
The exhibition at TCA will also include one large image made by digitally blending equal portions of every portrait in translucent layers. This image is part of the overall portrait of the community created by the project, and embodies the “e pluribus unum” (from many one) of the project title. This image will also grace the cover of a book which also includes all of the individual portraits, and essays by the artists. The book will be available at the exhibition and at bookstores and libraries in the project area.
E Pluribus Unum: El Norte is the fifth in Axle’s series of E Pluribus Unum (EPU) portrait projects in New Mexico. Past EPU projects took place in Santa Fe (2012), Albuquerque (2014), on and adjacent to the Navajo Nation (2016), and in Southeastern New Mexico (2018). As the artists visit more regions of the state with these projects and witness the distinct cultures and traditions of New Mexico, they share visions of the compelling contemporary individuals that make up this place and our shared humanity and our strength as communities.
E Pluribus Unum: El Norte ROUNDTABLE (excerpts) on YouTube
Roundtable intro and topics
The four roundtable participants have deep experience in community organizing and cultural preservation here in Northern New Mexico, and have long experience and roots in this place. They will discuss cultural histories of the region, the influence of photography on migration and history, Axle Contemporary's E Pluribus Unum project, and their own experiences working in local communities.
Since the arrival of the railroad in New Mexico in the latter part of the 19th Century, Northern New Mexico has been the site of rapid cultural changes. This timespan also coincides with the spread of photography throughout this area. Both these innovations are keystones to the drivers of cultural changes in the region. Photography has been used to sell the area as a picturesque tourist destination, and the railroad was an early promoter of this idea. This contributed to the arrival of artists and many others here from cities of the east in the early and mid-20th Century, and more migration to the area in the 1970s by counter-culture seekers. These migrations changed the culture here, but change and colonialism was already here, long before the 19th or 20th centuries, during the Spanish Colonial period, and also before that with an incredible diversity of cultures in the area, sedentary, nomadic, agriculturalists, pastoralists, raiders, warriors. And long before that time, 84 million years ago, these mountains formed the shores of Laramidia, a sea that stretched from the Rockies east to Appalachia. There is truth to the notion that the only thing that remains constant is change. Now, we are finishing up the first quarter of a new century, and change continues. During the recent pandemic, a new influx of people came here, to escape the cities, to work remotely, to get away from it all, to revel in the beauty and the light. What can we learn by looking and listening to all. In the diversity of our communities comes deeper knowledge, important viewpoints that might diverge or converge?
Claire Cote’s interdisciplinary practice synthesizes her passions for art, education, social and environmental justice and community building. Claire has worked with the US National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management, as well as the Global Geoparks Network on commissions, residencies and site-based environmental artworks and events. She founded the environmental art initiative LEAP (Land Experience and Art of Place) and became co-curator with the art and education project, SEED. Claire also serves as a board member for the Questa Creative Council, co-director of the Questa Stories project and collaborates closely with Localogy, a NM nonprofit organization dedicated to outdoor experiential education and sustainable living. Born and raised in Northern New Mexico, Claire lives with her husband and young daughters in their off-grid home in Sunshine Valley.
Matthew Martinez (Ohkay Owingeh) is the Executive Director of The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project. Formerly, Martinez was the First Lieutenant Governor of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, Deputy Director of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Director of the Northern Pueblos Institute & Associate Professor of Pueblo Indian Studies at Northern New Mexico College, and Director of Community Engagement at the New Mexico Public Education Department. Martinez is a co-producer and board member of Silver Bullet Productions.
Sabra Moore is an artist, writer, and activist. She is a major figure in the feminist art movement in 1960s New York City, and served as President of the Women’s Caucus for Art from 1980-1982. Between 1979 and 1991, Moore was a member of the Heresies Collective and a contributor to their feminist art and politics journal, Heresies. She organized diverse exhibitions of women artists, was an organizer of the 1984 Demonstration at MoMa, and was a member of Women Arts in Revolution. Her work is featured in the documentary film, The Heretics, directed by Joan Braderman and distributed by Women Make Movies. She is the author of Openings: A Memoir from the Women’s Art Movement, New York City 1970-1992 (New Village Press, 2016), with forewords by Lucy Lippard and Margaret Randall. Moore’s work and life are documented in her artwork, photographs, posters, clippings, newsletters, and cards kept in the Barnard Archives and Special Collections. She continues to work as an artist and activist in New Mexico. Moore manages Espanola Farmers Market, creating a community space for growers, with programs in the summer for students cooking in the horno and a community field in the back for growing organic crops. They host a free Kids Book Exchange; any child or youth can select one free book each Market day. The Market also collaborates with artists including two shows where artists collected farm stories from growers, made artworks in response, and then created cloth banners with thirty farm stories. Moore also created permanent large scale outdoor painted tile mosaic installations with students in seven public schools and community art centers over the past decade.
Estevan Rael-Gálvez is the founding principal and CEO of Creative Strategies 360°, which supports transformative work within communities, governments, universities and cultural based organizations He is also the director of Native Bound-Unbound, a Mellon Foundation sponsored digital humanities project centered on the millions of indigenous people whose lives were and have been shaped by enslavement. Previously he was the Project Director for the Manitos Community Memory Project in Northern New Mexico. Rael-Gálvez has served as the state historian of New Mexico, the executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and senior vice president of historic sites at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He has participated in public history and digital history projects involving communities linked to Mt. Taylor, Girl Scouts USA, Santa Fe, and many other broad, vast and important projects in public memory and public storytelling and narrative-making. He was raised on a farm/ ranch stewarded by his family in Costilla, New Mexico.
Matthew Chase-Daniel is a co-founder of Axle Contemporary. He has lived and worked in New Mexico since 1989. He holds a B.A. in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College, and a Diplome de Langue et Civilization Francaise from the Sorbonne. Raised by a family that included a painter, a poet, a scientist, a lawyer, an engineer, and a psychologist, he has searched the world for insight and knowledge. He learned photographic darkroom technique in 1977 and moved to digital photography in 2000. He has exhibited his photography and sculpture in galleries and museums across the U.S. and in Europe. He has created public art, social engagement, and community art projects since 2000. He serves on Santa Fe’s Railyard Art Committee and hosts Coffee and Culture, a bi-weekly radio artist interview show in Santa Fe New Mexico.
E Pluribus Unum: El Norte is supported by Axle Projects, Inc. Axle Projects is supported through individual donations, grants, and community partners. Funders include the National Endowment for the Arts, the FUNd of the Albuquerque Community Foundation, The Puffin Foundation, The New Mexico Humanities Council, The National Endowment for the Humanities, the Northern Rio Grande Heritage Area, the Native American Advised Fund of the Santa Fe Community Foundation, and The Paseo-Taos. This project is made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. If you are interested in supporting Axle Projects, visit the website here.