Opening Weekend: Flying Blue Buffalo & Soul of Nations

Armond Lara- Flying Blue Buffalo Project- Installation View- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Opening Weekend

Armond Lara’s
Flying Blue Buffalo Installation

Preview with Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez:
Thursday, August 16, 5:30 pm

Opening: Friday, August 17, 5-7 pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, August 18, 2-3 pm

This weekend, when Santa Fe artist Armond Lara sends 77 winged buffalo sculptures into the stratosphere of form & concept’s atrium, he’ll fulfill a long-held dream. The Flying Blue Buffalo installation tells the centuries-long story of enslaved Native American children—including Lara’s grandmother. The Pueblo people called these abducted youths “Lost Bluebirds.” Lara combined this symbol with the buffalo to create the Flying Blue Buffalo, a new icon of Indigenous resilience. Listen to Armond Lara’s interview with Spencer Beckwith on KUNM, and learn more at the links below.

Learn more about this exhibition.
RSVP on Facebook.

Image: Armond Lara, Flying Blue Buffalo installation.

Soul of Nations Group Exhibition- Brea Foley Art Program- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Opening Weekend

Soul of Nations

Opening: Friday, August 17, 5-7 pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, August 18, 1-2 pm

Soul of Nations, a Washington, D.C. and Arizona-based nonprofit that works to uplift Indigenous communities throughout the Americas, presents this juried exhibition of Native teen artists from Southwest reservations. Inspired by the theme “Honor the Earth,” the participants offer fresh perspectives on Indigenous identity, contemporary culture and the state of the environment. The 15 featured artists offer boundary-pushing aesthetic statements from a new generation of Indigenous creatives.

Learn more about this exhibition.
RSVP on Facebook.

Image: Kiara Tom, The Y’ell Night Chants, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18 in.

Armond Lara on KUNM.

Armond Lara- Flying Blue Buffalo Installation- Behind the Scenes- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Armond Lara spoke about his Flying Blue Buffalo Installation with Spencer Beckwith of KUNM! Here’s an excerpt from the station’s write-up on their conversation:

Suspended from the ceiling is a herd of blue buffalo, seventy-five of them, flying on wings.  The buffalo tell the story of thousands of Native American children who, from the 17th Century through the 19th, were abducted from their families and enslaved on ranches and in homes across the Southwest. The Flying Blue Buffalo installation is the creation of veteran Santa Fe artist Armond Lara, and it’s on view starting August 17 at the Santa Fe gallery, form & concept.

You can listen to two versions of the radio segment on the KUNM website— one that’s 4 minutes and one’s that 7 minutes. Both stories include this gorgeous quote from Armond:

I decided that all I would see was a cloud of blue. I thought it would be a beautiful presentation. That’s the whole philosophy for Navajo people. Walk In Beauty. It has to be in a beautiful way. It doesn’t have to be ugly, even though it is ugly. We can take the pride and the endurance of still being here. Like the buffalo.

Meanwhile, we’re deep in the installation process for Armond’s show. You can see the grid system we’re using in the photo above, which will support all of the sculptures in the piece. Come see it on opening weekend, August 16-18!

Learn more about the exhibition.
RSVP for the opening on Facebook.

A Little-Told Story, A Long-Held Dream.

Later this month, when Armond Lara sends 75 winged buffalo sculptures into the stratosphere of form & concept’s atrium, he’ll fulfill a long-held dream. Lara has been depicting buffalo in his artwork for years, but more recently they’ve turned blue and sprouted wings. The Flying Blue Buffalo series is a reference to the Santa Fe artist’s family history: his grandmother, who was Navajo, was kidnapped as a small child and forced into servitude by a Mexican family. Across three centuries of Spanish, Mexican and American rule, thousands of Native children were similarly enslaved as household servants or field hands.

The Pueblo people called these abducted youths “Lost Bluebirds,” a symbol that Lara combined with the buffalo to create a new icon of Indigenous resilience. He dreamed up a massive installation of 75 winged buffalo sculptures, which came to fruition through a Kickstarter campaign and 3D printing technology. We’re hosting a preview of the installation on Thursday, August 16, featuring a talk by Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez of Santa Fe. The installation opens with a reception on Friday, August 17, and Lara conducts an artist talk on August 18.

Armond Lara- Flying Blue Buffalo Installation- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

“My grandmother didn’t talk much, but if she did talk, you listened,” says Lara. He’s known the story of his grandmother’s abduction for as long as he can remember, but it wasn’t until recently that he learned how common the practice was. “My sister was doing genealogy research on the family, and she found a list of all the Native American kids who had been ‘adopted’ by Mexican families in the Four Corners area,” says Lara. “It dawned on me, whoa, this is really widespread. That’s when I started asking other people about it.” He learned about the kidnapping and enslavement of an enormous number of Native American children over several centuries—from the 1600’s when the Spanish arrived, through the period of Mexican Independence, until the late 1800’s under the government of the United States. A number of Lara’s close friends revealed that they too had ancestors who were taken.

For Lara, this growing web of stories reminded him of his grandmother’s resilience, which has been an enduring source of inspiration. “I looked to my grandparents for guidance. The strongest voice was my grandmother’s voice,” Lara says. “She didn’t talk about it, she just did it. If she needed something, she’d make it. If she needed a robe, she’d weave one. I really admired that quality.” He dreamed up an art installation and storytelling project that might communicate this ethos, and inspire people to learn more about their heritage. A series of five winged blue buffalo marionettes that Lara carved from wood over a number of years became central conceptual elements.

Armond Lara- Flying Blue Buffalo Installation- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

With the help of his frequent collaborator Joseph Riggs, an artist and retired attorney who lives in Santa Fe, Lara pitched the idea to form & concept. The gallery commissioned a digital model and several mock-ups of the buffalo from Albuquerque technology firm 3D Proven Systems, while Lara and Riggs started gathering stories for the project. “We’ve represented Armond’s work for years, and were so excited to help bring his vision into reality,” says Sandy Zane, Owner of Zane Bennett Contemporary Art and form & concept. “For a project at this scale, we turned to 3D printing technology to capture the original carvings in high fidelity.” The gallery mounted a Kickstarter campaign to fund a round of 3D-printed sculptures, which were used to create molds for a final series of 75 cast resin sculptures.  

Riggs says the scale of the installation is vital to the project, because it communicates the staggering number of children, families and communities affected by the issue. “I’ve lived in the Southwest my whole life, and I was unfamiliar with the story,” says Riggs. “You can’t find it in history books in New Mexico, but as I learned, there were slave markets all across this region. It became a deep part of the culture of the Southwest.” Each of the 75 buffalo sculptures will represent the story of one “Lost Bluebird,” with oral and written accounts of their fight for survival. “People in New Mexico have been searching for a way to explore this part of their family history,” Riggs says. “They can take pride in the fact that they’re Hispanic, and they’re Native American, and they’re American. There’s so much division in our country. We need to find ways to show our unity, to show how much we’re alike rather than how we’re different. And I think we can do it through this story.”

Learn more about this exhibition.
RSVP for the opening on Facebook.

Armond Lara- Flying Blue Buffalo Installation- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Open House & Panel: Flying Blue Buffalo Project

Click here to view the Kickstarter.

The open house begins at 2 PM. The panel with Lara starts at 3 PM. Scroll down to meet the panelists.

form & concept presents a Kickstarter campaign, anchored by this open house and panel discussion event, in support of Armond Lara’s  Flying Blue Buffalo Project. Mock-ups of the buffalo sculptures will appear at the event, and Lara will convene a panel of history experts to discuss the project and its themes.

The fundraiser will go towards the creation of a monumental installation of cast resin winged buffalo sculptures, based on a series of wood carvings by Lara. Inspired by the Mexican-Diné artist’s family history, this project tells the centuries-long story of enslaved Native American children. The Flying Blue Buffalo Kickstarter campaign runs from January 26 through February 28, 2018. The installation debuts in form & concept’s atrium on August 17, 2018.

Learn more about the project.
RSVP on Facebook.

Panelists

Armond Lara 

The creative dynamo behind the Flying Blue Buffalo Project! The Santa Fe artist is Hispanic and Navajo. A dark chapter of his family history helped inspire the project. Since starting this endeavor, he has studied the larger phenomenon of Native child slavery in the West.

Lara’s artwork.

Moises Gonzales

Moises Gonzales is an Assistant Professor in the Community and Regional Planning Program at UNM, he also serves as the Director of the Resource Center for Raza Planning and is the Director of the Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Planning and Design Degree Program. Gonzales holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Design from the University of Colorado, Denver as well as a Professional Planning Degree in the Master of Community and Regional Planning Program from UNM. He was the co-instructor for the summer urban studio that worked with students on the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo cultural corridor and he is still currently involved with this project. Moises will also be advising on the historic restoration plaza project for Nambe Pueblo and has also advised iD+Pi on the potential housing assessment project with the Santa Clara Housing Authority.

Estevan Rael-Gálvez

Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez is a nationally-recognized leader in cultural strategies. He recently spearheaded Culture Connects: Santa Fea community-wide effort to shape the cultural future of our city. Rael-Gálvez studied cultural anthropology and received his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, where he wrote his dissertation on identity and Genízaros (Native Americans enslaved as servants in New Mexico).

Read an article about Rael-Gálvez.

Sunny Dooley

When I started storytelling, it was the first time these stories were told by a Navajo person. That was thirty years ago. Since then, I’ve worked – as a storyteller, folklorist and cultural consultant – collecting, learning and retelling the oral tradition of the Diné Hozhojii Hané (Navajo Blessingway stories). These stories present the world view of the Diné people and details their relationship with their surroundings. I have retold these stories by oral tradition in Navajo and in English for a variety of organizations, universities, elementary schools and conferences throughout the US, Canada, Africa, Europe and Mexico including the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, the Denver Arts Museum, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISDI) and programs sponsored by the PEW Charitable Trust.

I was the Olive B. O’Connor Distinguished Visiting Professor of Literature and Storyteller-in-Residence at Colgate University and one of nine women, and the only Native storyteller to be included in the Women’s Chautauqua Institute. In 2006, I received the Navajos Making a Difference Award at the annual Navajo Studies conference. I am on the roster of the NMHC Chautauqua Speakers Program, which features specialists on New Mexico history and culture. I have done storytelling workshops with students and teachers (in New York schools) and seniors (at the northern Navajo Medical Center. A few years ago, I founded the Hané Storytelling Festival for indigenous storytellers. I was featured in Jack Hanna’s Zoo Life, the German documentary, Niedergang der Najavos and Miss Navajo, a PBS Independent Lens documentary, in which I spoke about winning the 1982 Miss Navajo Nation pageant that celebrates women and tradition.

Dooley’s website.

Kim Trujillo 

Kim Trujillo is from Belen, NM. She received a BA degree in journalism from NMSU. She is a former news anchor in Albuquerque at KRQE-TV.  She is currently working in NM film as a costume designer. She is featured on Ancestry.com commercial that has aired more than 12,000 times over the last two years nationally and in Canada.

Trujillo’s Ancestry.com ad.

Joseph Riggs

Joseph Riggs is an artist from Northern New Mexico, currently residing in Tesuque, NM. He is a retired criminal defense attorney, having practiced law for 40 years and Albuquerque and Northern New Mexico. In addition to his art, he is collaborating with Armond Lara on Lara’s Flying Blue Buffalo Project. His other interests include community activism as Project Manager of the Santa Fe Artists Medical Fund, and as President of the Tesuque Water Association Board.

Riggs’ website.

Weston Brownlee

Weston Brownlee is the Director of Operations at 3D Proven Systems, and a professional sculptor. His current work in the realms of digital art, 3D Modeling, 3D Scanning, and 3D Printing, when paired with his background in lost wax casting, foundry, and traditional cast arts all have come into play to help realize Armand Lara’s Flying Blue Buffalo Project.

3D Proven Systems website.

Events

Kickstarter Launch: Friday, January 26, 5-7 pm | RSVP on Facebook.
Kickstarter Campaign: January 26-February 28, 2018
Open House & Panel Discussion: Saturday, February 17, 2-5 pm | RSVP on Facebook.
Exhibition: August 17-November 17, 2018

Kickstarter Launch: Flying Blue Buffalo Project

form & concept presents a Kickstarter campaign, anchored by an open house and panel discussion event, in support of Armond Lara’s Flying Blue Buffalo Project. The fundraiser will go towards the creation of a monumental installation of cast resin winged buffalo sculptures, based on a series of wood carvings by Lara. Inspired by the Santa Fe artist’s family history, this project tells the centuries-long story of enslaved Native American children. The Flying Blue Buffalo Kickstarter campaign launches at form & concept on Friday, January 26 from 5-7 pm and runs through February 28.

The installation will debut in form & concept’s atrium on August 17, 2018. Mock-ups of the buffalo sculptures will appear at a February 17 open house event, and Lara will convene a panel of history experts to discuss the project and its themes.

Events

Kickstarter Launch: Friday, January 26, 5-7 pm | RSVP on Facebook.
Kickstarter Campaign: January 26-February 28, 2018
Open House & Panel Discussion: Saturday, February 17, 2-5 pm | RSVP on Facebook.
Exhibition: August 17-November 17, 2018

Learn more about the project.
RSVP on Facebook.

Teaser: Flying Blue Buffalo Kickstarter

“Buffalo are masters of survival,” says Armond Lara. “They’re still around today, even though we tried our best to kill them all off.”

The Santa Fe artist has depicted buffalo in his drawings, paintings, and sculptures for decades. In recent years, they’ve turned blue and sprouted wings. Armond combined the buffalo with the symbol of the “lost bluebirds,” a term the Pueblo people called the millions of Native children who were abducted and enslaved as household servants and field-hands.

This August, Armond will collaborate with form & concept to fulfill his long-held dream of creating a monumental installation of flying blue buffalo sculpture that explores this little-told history. A Kickstarter campaign will raise funds to support the production of over seventy 3D printed buffalo, based on a series of wood carvings by Lara.

Visit flyingbluebuffalo.com to learn more.

RSVP for the Kickstarter Launch.

RSVP for the Open House and Panel Discussion.

January at form & concept.


Last Friday Art Walk- Santa Fe Railyard Arts District- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Our final event of the year is the Santa Fe Railyard Arts District’s Last Friday Art Walk, on December 29 from 5-7 pm! Swing by to see or current shows and pick up the first-ever form & concept annual catalog, which includes the gallery’s complete 2018 exhibition schedule. Here’s a first look at our January exhibitions & events:

Smitten Forum Exhibition- Gallery Talk- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Gallery Talk

Smitten Forum

Wednesday, January 3, 2-3 pm

Call it a mobile artist colony, a colorful social experiment or a crafty piece of performance art. Each year since 2014, Sara Brown and Marissa Saneholtz have invited a new group of pioneering jewelers and metalsmiths to work side-by-side in a communal studio for 7 days. The initiative is called Smitten Forum, and invitees range from emerging to well-established makers who employ a staggering array of mediums and techniques. This year’s participants are headed to Abiquiu, New Mexico in late December, but they’ll also leave their mark on the nearby art center of Santa Fe. A curator’s talk featuring Brown, Saneholtz and 2014 Smitten Forum participant Robert Ebendorf will take place on Wednesday, January 3 from 2-3 pm.

Learn more on our website.
RSVP on Facebook.

Ritual Prayer Performance- Ekalos Reed- Aine McCarthy- Kara Duval- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Special Event

A Day of Ritual Prayer Performance

In conjunction with Thais Mather’s exhibition Reckless Abandon,
and featuring Ekalos Reed, Áine McCarthy & Kara Duval

Saturday, January 20, 7 am-7pm

“I find that people are really hungering for ritual and prayer, and not in a traditional, religious way,” says Ekalos Reed. Reed and Áine McCarthy’s performance art group is called Time Beings. This winter, they collaborate with Kara Duval—another local performer who explores themes of ritual, reclamation and healing—for a 12-hour performance among the artworks of form & concept’s exhibition Thais Mather: Reckless Abandon. In the multi-part ritual prayer, they will convene other Santa Fe artists and anyone who wishes to take part as they create moments and spaces that redefine the sacred. The piece represents a dynamic response to the exhibition’s themes and a tribute to women and others who have faced persecution. Reed and McCarthy perform ‘Tending the Mighty Dead’ from 7 am to 7 pm. Kara Duval performs ‘Red’ from 4:30- 6:30 pm. There is a closing ceremony from 6- 7 pm. From 7 to 10 am, the performance will be visible from outside form & concept, but the gallery does not open to the public until 10 am.

Learn more on our website.
RSVP on Facebook.

Image: Kara Duval, Red, durational performance piece. Photo by Kara Duval.

Fiber Artist Jodi Colella- Unidentified Women Solo Exhibition- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Artist Talk & Opening

Jodi Colella: Unidentified Women

Artist Talk & Preview: Thursday, January 25, 2-3 pm | RSVP on Facebook.
Opening Reception: Friday, January 26, 5-7 pm | RSVP on Facebook.

It started somewhere among the vast archives of the Historic Northampton Museum in Northampton, Massachusetts. Fiber artist Jodi Colella was working on an art project inspired by the museum’s headwear collection, and she stumbled upon a series of daguerreotype portraits. “They were like little 18th and 19th century selfies,” Colella says. “I noticed that all the men in the images had every single detail of their life listed in the catalog. About 80% of the women were labeled ‘unidentified.’”

The artist was fascinated by these forgotten, female faces, and the contrast between the women’s fleeting social visibility and their invisibility to history. After hunting down similar portraits in flea markets and antique shops, Colella stitched intricate embroideries across the images, further obscuring the women’s identities. The body of work, titled Unidentified Women, makes its Santa Fe debut at form & concept on Friday, January 26 from 5-7 pm. Colella will appear at the opening reception, and also conduct an artist talk and preview on Thursday, January 25 from 2-3 pm.

Learn more on our website.
RSVP for the reception Facebook.

Image: Jodi Colella, Leaf (detail), found daguerreotype & embroidery, 2016.

Flying Blue Buffalo Kickstarter Campaign- Artist Armond Lara- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Kickstarter Campaign & Special Event

Armond Lara: Flying Blue Buffalo Project

Kickstarter Launch: Friday, January 26, 5-7 pm | RSVP on Facebook.
Open House & Panel: Wednesday, February 17, 2-5 pm | RSVP on Facebook.

“Buffalo are masters of survival,” says Armond Lara. “They’re still around today, even though we tried our best to kill them all off.” The Mexican-Diné artist has depicted buffalo in his drawings, paintings and sculptures for decades. In recent years, they’ve turned blue and sprouted wings. The winged blue buffalo reference a dark chapter of Lara’s family history: his grandmother, who was Diné, was kidnapped as a child and forced into servitude by a Mexican family. This was a common story in the American West. Across three centuries of Spanish, Mexican and American rule, millions of Native children were enslaved as household servants or field hands.

The Pueblo people called these abducted youths “lost bluebirds,” a symbol that Lara combined with the buffalo into a new icon of Indigenous survival. This August, he’ll collaborate with form & concept to fulfill his long-held dream of creating a monumental installation of flying blue buffalo sculptures that explores this little-told history. The Flying Blue Buffalo Project Kickstarter campaign, running January 26 through February 28 and anchored by a special event on February 17, will raise funds to support the production of over seventy 3D printed buffalo, based on a series of wood carvings by Lara.

Learn more on our website.

Image: Digital rendering of Armond Lara’s 3D-printed Flying Blue Buffalo3D Proven Systems.

Click here to view the complete form & concept event schedule.

Call for Artists: Brea Foley Art Program

Deadline: Wednesday, December 20, 2017

LEARN MORE & DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION.

The Brea Foley Art Program is looking for 15 outstanding teen artists who reside on Native reservations in the Southwest. High school students ages 15-18 are eligible to apply for this project that offers exciting opportunities to create, discuss and exhibit artwork. They’ll travel to New York City for a special reception at the National Museum of the American Indian, engage in an artist residency project at New York University, and exhibit their artwork at form & concept in Santa Fe, New Mexico during Indian Market in August 2018. The Brea Foley Art Program is run by the 501(c)3 nonprofit Soul of Nations.

Soul of Nations

Soul of Nations is a nonprofit that uplifts Native American youth through engagement in the arts, encouraging academic excellence, and inspiring business entrepreneurship. Established in 2015, Soul of Nations exists to inspire Native American youth to pursue and achieve their goals. We stress the importance of education and provide Tribal youth with a platform for free expression. Our programs help to foster the next generation of community leaders in the fields of art and business.

Learn more.

Brea Foley Art Program

The Brea Foley Art Program is an initiative created by Soul of Nations to help fulfill the organization’s mission to galvanize artistic zeal among Indigenous communities. It is dedicated to showcasing and celebrating cultural art created by Native American youth.

The program was conceived by the late co-founder of Soul of Nations, Brea Foley. Although she is no longer with us, her spirit lives on through the consciousness of art. Foley was a firm believer in the longevity of culturally infused artwork and wanted to inspire artistic talent among youth who live in displaced communities. The Brea Foley Art Program is designed to do just that.

The project aims to rebuild cultural self-confidence, challenge personal boundaries, and foster cultural continuity while reflecting artistic diversity. Soul of Nations wants to show the world that our nation’s first people are still here and thriving in the best ways possible. What better way to validate contemporary Native life and strength than through the arts? Soul of Nations believes that art is a universal language that carries the story of honesty, history, and belonging.

Completed applications for the 2017-18 program are due Wednesday, December 20, 2017. Once admitted, the artists will have from Friday, December 22, 2017 – Friday, February 23, 2018 to complete and submit their artwork. On Saturday, March 3, 2018, all artists and will gather to display their artwork at the Navajo Nation Museum in the form of an art showing. At the art showing, all work will be critiqued by a team of judges. These judges will range from renowned artists, curators, gallerists, and regional sponsors.

All 15 artists granted admission into the Brea Foley Art Program will have the opportunity to be exhibited at form & concept, located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Friday, August 17, 2018. Soul of Nations will also exhibit all artworks in an online exhibition for one year.

Judges will be responsible for selecting the top three artists of the competition who will be crowned as the 2018 Brea Foley Art Program Finalists. The three program finalists will travel to New York City on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 to be celebrated at a reception held at the National Museum of the American Indian – New York and to engage in the artist residency project at New York University.

The reception event at the National Museum of the American Indian – New York will be held on Friday, June 8, 2018 and the artist residency project will be held from Tuesday, June 5, 2018 – Friday, June 8, 2018. The top three 2018 Brea Foley Art Program Finalists are scheduled to fly out to New York City on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. Once arrived, the artists will be housed on the campus of New York University. The artists will also be chaperoned by members of the Soul of Nations Team.

Learn more.

2017/18 Program Theme

The theme of this years’ program is Honor the Earth. All submitted artwork must adhere to this theme, and artists may be expected to provide a description of the artwork.

LEARN MORE & DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION.

Jaque Fragua in Neon.

Jacques Fragua Neon Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Jacques Fragua, Sold Out, neon, 29 x 48.25 x 3 in.

Neon has been in use an artistic medium for decades, but there’s something about it that seems perpetually of the “now.” Its glow makes it feel like a living thing, and the low hum it gives off could be friendly or threatening. The blue-green quality of neon light conjures a feeling of Americana and a gritty futurist sensation at the same time. Jaque Fragua bends this culturally loaded medium to his will in a series of provocative sculptures that illuminate the walls and windows of form & concept. Fragua’s neon creations parody the kitsch of curio shops and critique the appropriation of Native American aesthetics with biting wit. Crave reported on Fragua’s early influences in a profile last year:

Jaque Fragua Neon Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Jaque Fragua, Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe, neon, 16.5 x 48.25 x 2.5 in.

From humble beginnings and a large family, Fragua grew up in an adobe house on Jemez Pueblo, about an hour northwest of Albuquerque. He began painting ceremonial objects for dances and cultural rituals in his youth. As an adolescent, he attended high school in Denver, and got into graffiti (along with some trouble). Formal training at the Institute of the American Indian Arts in Santa Fe followed.

Pre-Internet, the mainstream public didn’t know what was happening on reservations or in contemporary Native culture; Fragua saw an opportunity to use his experiences as the basis for his body of work. “I felt like the art I was interested in making could be a conduit for dialogue and to spread that awareness,” he says.

Jaque Fragua Neon Sculpture- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico
Jaque Fragua, Drive Through Liquor, neon, 24 x 23.75 x 3.75 in.

Fragua discussed the experience of moving through the world as a Native artist with Santa Fe Reporter in 2015:

The reality is that it is twice as oppressive as being just a Native person. I feel like there’s so much pressure on young Native people to rise to a certain occasion or level of being or just adulthood…I don’t know what it is, but there’s all this pressure to be something that I don’t feel like we’re necessarily meant to be. It might be capturing the American Dream, or go to college and get your master’s in oil engineering, and there’s these things that our parents or the generation before have been trained or conditioned to do for so many years. Now, I feel like because we’re in a current state of society [where] people are having difficulty deciding what exactly they want to do, with that comes more pressure.

VICE‘s Creators Project touched on Fragua’s recent activist work in an article late last year:

The artistic abilities Fragua honed with graffiti eventually pushed him toward activist endeavors. “I came into the social justice sector by accident. A friend of mine asked me to help him make a banner for a specific Native organization fighting for water rights in Northern Arizona. This was 2007. Since then, I have been creating art every year for different indigenous campaigns and struggles, separate from the art I create for myself.” This past summer, Fragua traveled to North Dakota to help fight the Dakota Access Pipeline. “Part of my role there was to educate about art as a visual communication through non-violent direct action. The banner was created for an action that was deployed the morning after I arrived,” says Fragua.

Visit Jaque Fragua’s artist page to learn more about his work.

Broken Boxes: Final Walk-Through

RSVP on Facebook.

Join Ginger Dunnill, curator of the Broken Boxes group exhibition at form & concept, for an interactive walk-through on the show’s final weekend. Broken Boxes features the art and ideas of over 40 visual artists, filmmakers, sound artists, activists, performance artists and community organizers from around the world who are effecting change through their work. The show is co-curated by Ginger Dunnill and Cannupa Hanska Luger, and all invited artists have participated in an interview on Dunnill’s Broken Boxes Podcast over the past 2 years. The walk-through takes place on Saturday, October 21 from 1-3 pm. The Broken Boxes catalog, launched at an event this September, will be available for sale.

Learn more about the Broken Boxes exhibition.