Santa Fe art Institute "Equal Justice" Art Residence, Santa Fe - New Mexico
I want to take the opportunity to express my gratitude for this opportunity now presenting itself in my life. Not long ago the following proposal floated disjointedly in my head, a far fetched idea of merging my professional life with my passion for wholistic medicine, and its effects of the individual and therefore society as a whole.
Self-empowerment and community empowerment bring about resilience, access wholistic methods of our traditions and those of others' offer a missing piece beyond the tangible, beyond political discourse. Identifying that which nurtures our spirit and cultivating this, allows for equanimity on our thoughts, and our way of life, this in turn expands in our environment allowing for this potential to manifest in our world.
Thanks Mom <3 , Thank you Estacia for making me aware of this opportunity, Kristen R. Woods for always being a positive driving force in my endeavors & a part of this collective , Paula J Wilson for being an inspiration and bringing your genius to shed light on this theme, David Torres for being a supportive brother and a sweet and assertive critic, Jason Aponte for your constant inspiration , for your help and for landing my ideas when they , as always, float away in space. Thanks to Nierika, the place where this idea was birthed , its people and ceremonies, Thank you finally to my teachers and mentors: Rita Navarrete, Steven Bluehorse, Sandor Iron Rope, Joel Shopteese, George Wilson, Armando Loizaga, and Mary E. Hooley.
Thank you sacred ayahuasca, thank you Miami Circle, thank you Oyate, Thank you Mexico.
The residency would provide the ideal platform for the exploration of social equity and empowerment.
Our systems-planning approach that we are currently calling “Community Supported Wellness” aims to weave together the social, economic and wholistic aspects of equal justice in regards to wellness at the community level.
The project serves to normalize the inclusion of medicinal plants and traditional wholistic practices in contemporary society across existing and perceived socio-economic barriers transcending traditions.
The final outcome of the residency consists of an art installation as well as an evolving planning document. It explores themes of social capital, equity, justice, and cultural sovereignty through the lens of wholistic, ancestral practices available in contemporary society.
Both, the installation and document seek to engage the community by questioning the sense of self when it comes to the everyday realities of health care. It calls for the resurgence of the sacred in how we care for ourselves and our families, in everyday life.
This project aims to shed light onto existing working models of economic local participation like CSA, and national food sovereignty educational initiatives like Food Corps hoping to expand the scope through a creative way of experimentation that synergistically addresses economic development, community participation and sustainability while adding the dimension of traditional wholistic wellness.
Art Installation (or Exhibit)
The installation will serve as a catalyst for critical self-inquiry in regards to structural barriers to wholistic health. It aims to help recognize and recall ancient traditions of healing as a valid and accessible form of health care. The multimedia installation aims to raise questions of equal justice through questioning privilege, belonging, self-segregation, adaptation, assimilation and equal access to wholistic practices as an integral part of resilience in the New Mexico context.
The installation incorporates masks, audio, video, a tactile and sound collection that explores the modern and traditional sense of self, whether forgotten or practiced, by showing the dichotomy in society.
It plays concepts like, the clinical and the energetic, the sacredness attributed to the old and the mundanity of the modern.
This installation serves to fulfill a missing space in the context of Traditional Healing Arts in New Mexico and reinstate the place of healing traditions in the larger access to wellness narrative.
The evolving exploration of the themes listed in this proposal hold the potential to be hosted in multi-site venues as well as build towards an institutional, museum-level exhibition.
Places like MomaZozo in Carrizozo, NM and can be submitted to The Small Engine gallery in Albuquerque, NM.
Community Development through “Community Supported Wellness (CSW)”
The second part of the project proposes a systems-based approach model through a collaborative-research planning document. The document illustrates the integration of the wholistic into the already existing socio-economic model of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
Herbs, herbal remedies, natural products and wholistic health practices are mostly considered a luxury supplementary health category for some sectors of the population, while being the only accessible health system for others due to the institutionalized discrimination of Healthcare providers.
In addition, in many cases, this group’s perceived need for total assimilation, pharmaceutical access and advertisement, combined with cultural barriers helps negate the space for this type of healthcare in disadvantaged communities.
For this group, most modalities like acupuncture, yoga, meditation, traditional and western herbalism, aromatherapy and massage are seen as financially inaccessible, “new age”, or nonessential. Natural and Alternative healthcare in American contemporary society places wholistic health behind the doors of the lavish business/ culture of Spa and Retreat settings. Which turns the natural into an elitist privilege.
As a former undocumented immigrant, the project represents my attempt to bring the wholistic to a community setting and making it available as a tool for resilience, equal access and economic opportunity. In addition, it seeks to inform the current discourse of health, wellness and access, through artistic exploration of evolving narratives.
According to Pew Research Center, there were 85,000 unauthorized immigrants in New Mexico in 2014. It is safe to assume that a large number of them have very limited or no access to healthcare, with the exception of some clinics.
The HealthCare.org website states that, “Undocumented immigrants aren’t eligible to buy Marketplace health coverage, or for premium tax credits and other savings on Marketplace plans. But they may apply for coverage on behalf of documented individuals.”
Undocumented immigrants and low-income populations in this country operate in a framework of fear and economic distress. The fear of being found out manifests in everyday life, from fear of waiting at a bus stop and being exposed to random searches, to the fear of looking for medical help and being asked for documents. In addition, the high cost of medications and appointments force this group to postpone necessary visits.
In an interview for Periodismo Urbano, Alicia Wilson, executive director of “La Clinica del Pueblo” in Washington, DC, speaks to disadvantaged communities’ structural barriers to health. She says “most people with conditions like diabetes, for instance, have already been diagnosed in their country of origin but prices make treatment inaccessible. Therefore the only option they have is to change their diet and to exercise within their economic means.”
Creating a CSW, where the community, including the above mentioned at-risk populations, canhave access to complimentary medicine, workshops, and exposure to alternative healing systems fulfills a need in the community that has direct health impacts and exposes the community to potential economic opportunities.
The CSW system may play a role in the local labor market, since, in New Mexico, the agriculture industry takes the highest share of unauthorized immigrant labor at 26%. Ideally, the project proposes a pilot urban site that operates as a small-scale herbal medicine farm as well as a community meeting and workshop classroom space. The CSW is made up of a network for existing and emerging farms, local makers, schools and businesses that participate collectively in the CSW program.
There are many existing CSA-participating farms that could expand their operation to accommodate the proposed model. Some of them are: La Cosecha and AgriculturaNetwork in Albuquerque, Beneficial Farms in Santa Fe.
Furthermore, I have identified potential CSW participants like herbalist Lucy McCall in Taos. She is a UNM-Taos herbalism professor, who additionally has her own herbalism business and agricultural land.
The document will outline:
Health (medicine and medication)
Illness mitigation vs. Wellness.
Herbs as preventive medicine.
The resurgence of ancient wellness methods for physical and emotional resilience.
Perspectives: Narratives and cosmologies of First People’s healing traditions.
The decolonization of “medicine” in the context of traditional healing.
Perceptions of belonging: holistic care (IE: natural vs. synthesized medicine).
Marginalization and stigma of ancient wholistic traditions as “New Age”.
Art for critical inquiry
Art and Ecology as a method for community engagement.
Pilot/Demo Site: Observation and experimentation.
Documentation through an artistic perspective
Access to The Wholistic
Community education (Expanding existing programs like Food Corps to include wholistic health and practices).
A model for transforming structural oppression.
Capitalizing on NM’s alternative health providers.
Case Studies (Meditation Vs. detention, homeroom meditation, prison meditation).
Pilot site: Establishing a medicinal garden space for cross-cultural exchange within the urban
environment. Exploring healing traditions for body, mind and spirit as a component of resilience.
Empowering the WHOLE person.
Social Networks: Accessing the knowledge of the community and promoting integration.
Atlas of social capital (land parcels, herbalists, local businesses, holistic schools, farmers
markets, GIS mapping, Non-profit organizations, healers, instructors, commercial kitchens)
Economic Incubator: Both And not Either Or
From Community Supported Agriculture to Community Supported Wellness.
Community action: Workshops, community classes
Accessing the economic market online and offline.
Bridging the gap of: normalizing perceptions of luxury vs. only option to health.
Replication & Collaboration of CSW resilient network.