September 10, 2019

Nomad MFA Field Report #6: New Mexico

Hartford Art School

Nomad MFA Spring Residency in rural New Mexico, 2019. 

The Nomad MFA spring 2019 residency in New Mexico consisted of radical, regenerative pedagogy in three units. Roxanne Swentzell (Santa Clara Pueblo) led the first unit of the residency in the Distinguished Practitioner course. This course prioritized indigenous approaches to education, materials and life ways and was experienced while camping on the land, eating the traditional Puebloan diet, and learning in a close community that included Porter Swentzell teaching indigenous humanities, a studio visit with Rose B. Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo), and Nicole Lovato (Santa Domingo Pueblo) contributing daily as a teaching assistant. Students learned how to identify and dig clay from the land, practicing the methods of the honorable harvest. The learning community utilized storytelling, working as a collective, and reading and discussing critical texts on Puebloan history and culture. The group made seed pots and wood fired them at Swentzell's Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute.

The second unit of the residency was in Albuquerque held at the 5G Gallery, where students worked with Thesis Advisors Christy Gast and Mary Mattingly on their artistic practice. A public Slide Slam and Open House event was held with visiting artists Dafina McMillan and Lauren Ruffin of Crux, Erin Elder, Basia Irland, Andrea Polli, Mary Tsiongas, and Paula Wilson, who made short format presentations and critiqued student work.

The final unit was held in San Fidel at the St. Joseph’s Mission School with Chrissie Orr and Jenn Hart Mann of SeedBroadcast in the Art & Ecology course. Students studied acequia culture through contributing labor to cleaning the ditches and meeting the local Mayordomo. Students practiced seed saving techniques and investigsted seed sovereignty with visiting guests Antonio Trujillo, Beata Tsosie Peña (Santa Clara) from Tewa Women United, Dwight McCracken, Leon Tafoya, and Aaron Lowden (Acoma Pueblo) of the Ancestral Lands Program, Southwest Conservation Corps. The students culminated this class by creating a contribution to SeedBroadcast’s quarterly journal, which is a part of their current exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum entitled Seed: Climate Change Resilience (June 22–Sept 22, 2019).

Created in 2015, the Nomad MFA program is an accredited, low-residency graduate program offered by the University of Hartford’s Hartford Art School. It features a high-impact, field-based curriculum that includes art, ecology, study of place, indigenous knowledge systems, and the craft-to-code technology continuum. The Nomad MFA is the MFA of the future, providing artists deeper ways of engaging with their home community and a network of communities in the Americas. The curriculum addresses today’s most pressing cultural, environmental and social issues through embodied, ethical learning strategies. This singular MFA program is dedicated to regenerative culture. Courses are conducted in the field, where the program has long-term engagements with each site, including the laberinto projects in El Salvador; New York City solidarity economy sites; SeedBroadcast and the Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute in rural New Mexico; various groups in Oakland, CA; Love the Everglades and the Koubek Center in Miami, FL; and the Water Bar & Public Studio in Minneapolis, MN. Our fall 2019 residency is in Oaxaca, Mexico. Applications for the incoming Cohort 5 will available online at begining in October, with a deadline for Scholarship Consideration of February 1, 2020.

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