26 December 2010

The Visitors

A knock at the door. Earlier it was the cookie sisters. I open the shades of blue and Angelica, my Raramuri friend smiles back to me in her swirl of RED. Her niece, a swirl of green and a bundle of blue named San Juanito. They flow through the door and into the kitchen; I make tea and serve them the cookies from the cookie sisters-sweet sugar cookies with a touch of cinnamon.

They both see the National Geographic rimmed in gold and open the pages as if to satisfy some thirst; hunger...curiosity and the enchantment of the images of the world mysterious and different beyond languages and cultures.

Angelica wants me to photograph them...get my camera... move into the shooting guest room....

To have their youth and dark luminous light in the house of blue; swirls of color through cool blues and shadowy pinks; the window swings open; has remained open inspite of the cold to let the air and light in; camping indoors; Vameer's window light cascades and pools on high cheek bones; almond eyes;shy smiles and laughter behind hands; a clear gaze of mother's love; the young girl woman I have no idea how old she is; they are.

She begins to nurse.

Tonight is Christmas Eve and it is occurs to me how I feel I'm visited by the spirit of the Eternal Mother and Child on this special day. I watch them walk down my street. The sunshine illuminates this timeless act of mothers and the form echos the eternal grace of love. Lone silhouettes against the emptiness of the street and bare naked trees ; holding hands, walking together in the winter sun.

How to create? I feel sometimes like people think we just turn it on on demand. It can be elusive; sometimes it needs to be cajoled; flattered. initiated; invited - I don't know where the inspiration will come from; or the motivation to create something; anything ; how to get into the flow of the movement necessary to break the spell of inertia? Well needless to say I was grateful for their visit; It affirmed me of why I am here; and why I need to keep my camera close so I can answer the knock at the door and say, "Que Milagro ! What a miracle to see you! Would you like some tea?"

10 November 2010

I will not live in fear

Here are the prayer, poetry, words of Dawna Markova

I will not die an unlived life
I will not live in fear
Of falling or catching fire
I choose to inhabit my days
To allow my living to open me
To make me less afraid
More accessible
To loosen my heart
Until it becomes a wing
A torch, a promise
I choose to risk my significance
To live so that which came to me as seed
Goes to the next as blossom
As which came to me as blossom
Goes on as fruit.

This poem gives me courage today to do my part on the borderlands. I look forward to returning to my home of Casas Grandes next week to help with a new conservation education project at El Uno, the Bison conservation ranch near Janos and in the beautiful dunes and water hole of Salamayuca south of Juarez. I don't have time to be afraid. There is work to do and hope to inspire for the children and communities there. Bison, praire dogs, prong hong, some of the most beautiful grasslands left in the Americas; what to do with all that plastic trash; and help women in their communities learn how to recycle; and inspire generations to value stewardship of the land.

A portrait of Indian Ju; We met on the Cabalgata Villista 3 years ago. He is married to a Mexicana from Zaragosa and lives and works in Alburqurque, NM. He is of Apache descent.

NAU BOOKSTORE NOV 10th 3 to 5pm ; Native American Appreciation month

Come visit me and Rex Bizaholoni at the NAU bookstore for Native American Tribute month TODAY 3 to 5pm. We will share our creative works and insight into the connections of Northern Mexico and the Greater Southwest beyond the fear of the borderlands through photography and visual communications. Come see Mata Ortiz Ceramics for sale; learn about bi-national collaborations with RanchoFeliz.com and Somoslasemilla.org, conservation, eco education, and efforts to effect change on the border. Come see what's on the other side of the fence -get inspired - explore connections of the past and think about our future.... LOok forward to seeing you there !

06 November 2010

Do NOT dispair:New moon wishes

New Moon. My dear sister Al Pal's wedding today and here's to making LOVE and healing and saying YES for all the right reasons: A little something from planetwaves.net that really spoke to me this morning: It starts with you not getting beaten down, and to help bring others up who are. Its about sharing food with others, giving some of your extra eggplant that you’ve grown but you just can’t eat, to other people who are hungry. Its about helping other people who are in need, who are alone, who are sick, tired, poor and need to be hugged and held... It starts with you. And you will have the planets and the stars aligned up for you these next few years to do just that.... So take this analogy to heart and keep it there, beating strong: They want you to imagine that you’re weak and you have no power. But you do. Its already there. All you have to do is tap it, put all your energy into it, focus it and use it to defeat them. Use this time to rest up, paint, dance, be creative and make love as often as you can. Limber up for spring training and strengthen your voice. Reject despair. We’re going to need you. You’ve got what it takes. Here's to overcoming those who abuse their power for selfish gain, mean spiritedness, and greed with the exponential power of LOVE.... thank you planetwaves.net!!! Yeah!!! New Moon Wishing.....Here's to the LOVE we make in the world.

25 October 2010

WAR !!! What is it good for !!!

Censorship in the military. Don't see. Don't know. Ignorance is bliss but there are homeless men walking in the world carrying the wounds and war around in their heads. Families missing parts and a yearning for something more innocent. Jesus walks on the water and befriends the fallen solider or someone made a deal with the devil and the beat goes on.

I once was on assignment on a military base documenting 'techno warfare' a few years before Iraq. As a journalist, the soldiers practiced their interaction with the media and this story made me remember how that policy was being made. I grew up looking, terrified as a small child watching the Viet Nam war play in black in white. I used to have nightmares ; even as a little as I was I identified with the brown children running from bombs ; The photographs that came out of Nam helped to draw attention to the real truth of what was going on - those truths are what some people don't want us to know.

As I looked at David Douglas Duncan's work I remembered certain feelings from pictures. I listened to his voice; and those of soldiers who may or may not have made it home back to the US of A. I think of how my life would have been different if my dad had been sent to Nam and I wouldn't have been born in Flagstaff. I remember the hollow look; and the tender, and fear, and hell of the darkness of the jungles of faraway places I could only think of what my mother's country looked like. Bombs...people running. guns. them and us. us and them... always the other brother like Cain and Abel...

I have never seen combat or a violent death happen before me. When I look at these pictures I wonder how we can still support war or be blind to the effects. Some things haven't changed... but still there are stories to tell to help us open our eyes.

Examples of what you could or couldn't photograph:If we really SEE what's going on how can you close your eyes? After I read about Mark on a photoeditor.com I was compelled to find the book I 'stole' from my dad; I PROTEST. A very small and powerful book sold for a dollar. There is another book, WHERE WAR LIVES that haunts me too. We need photographers to keep us real-

over Family dinner Dkish, Dad, Laura we discuss what is being Human? Humane? I am still contemplating it....

Slideshow link :DAVID Douglas Duncan

23 October 2010

Chaco on my mind

The Chaco Meridian is a direct north south alignment from Chaco Canyon in NM, to the ancient trading center of Paquime, Chihuahua. Being south has made me contemplate north these past three years. Got the book and spent a couple days wandering in the northern Gran Chichimeca watching Venus and Pluto on the horizon. Presented the Suenos de Aztlan under the stars to a lovely group of fellow travelers and share the love and amazement of how these two points are connected. I had no photos of Chaco and my dad collaborated with me to fill in the gaps. I sure look forward to returning again with insight and curiosity. Started reading Stephen Lexon's book, The Chaco Meridian on a cold, dark, and stormy night. Rain and Wind Gods follow me home in either direction.

Cultura Paquime: Sitios Arqueologicos - Paquime Culture Documental Docum...

21 October 2010

From Chihuahua with love !!

Sometimes you enter a contest and share company in a collection of memories. Thanks to the Santa Fe PHotographic Workshops for selecting my image for their collection FAMILY 1st Photo contest. Images came from 25 countries, and the contest inspired 702 photographers to enter 2544 images. I grew up looking at the images in book The Family of Man since before I could walk or talk but I remember I could as a baby feel those Family moments. Tender. Funny. Sad. Traumatic. Magical. I am grateful for the opportunity to share what I've come to love in people. Thank you to todas las familias, all the family, who've shared this amazing journey of life with me.

For me this portrait, of the Mennonite sisters and the beautiful quilts they make, is a much needed representation of the Mexican people connected to their culture and the landscape that has been portrayed primarily as a war zone every day with no end in sight. This moment too is real. It is an interior view within the folds of the sierras and valleys of Mexico's history.

The Mennonites immigrated to Chihuahua from Canada after the revolution. They keep to their traditions from Russia and Germany. They speak an old dialect of German. we can't speak each other's languages. English, or Spanish. Yet there is no need for language when you can feel a smile grow on your face as you take part in shared laughter; this is an example of when there are no lines marring the exuberance of joyful expression from the heart of Chihuahua.

I am reminded of why I want to be a photographer when I remember how I felt when I made the picture and also how it makes me feel remembering that laughter.

Here's to HOPE and more peaceful times on the borderlands. OJALA QUIERE.

17 September 2010

A Letter to Our Countries

A daughter's letter for la Patria; Citlali's words express so much of what I've grown to love about Mexico. That this 'war' wages on and the families caught in the middle of fear are not seen by the millions of people who watch the nightly news. I think it interesting how we've traded countries, or rather expanded our concept and geographic region we call home. She's at home in the north and I am more at home in the simple life of El Pueblo in the south; I love my abulitas who come to door; the kids who collect bottle caps for me; the colors and the music; the Santos who are beloved and the community ceremonies Catholic or Indigenous it is a blend of communion with Nature and Spirit. The war wages on. People still gather close to pray for rain; for safe keeping; for a miracle. Most importantly we both make a home embracing both sides of what we love and hold close of our countries and the people who make up our communities.

What does it mean when we've lost the thread connecting us to what is essential? The basics. Water. Food. Shelter. Community. Thousands of years of evolution and we forget in these modern tech times there is a force, and energy that engages birds and butterflies and people to move in a rhythm across the world. North to South. South to North. East to West. West to East. Currents.Tides. Land patterns following the seasons and rain. No one's ipod can tell them that. It's still mysterious and unknown like the face of God.

I read this letter, a swell in my heart edges with a tear. I think of Pancho Villa's tears. I listen to old Mexican love songs about crying; longing, aching, love crossing the distance on a cool evening in the mountains. It feels I've been a long away from my home in the south. I returned to Flag in the summer monsoons and it's already a new season of autumns early gold. I never know how long I will stay or when I leave from either place. I share a similar melancholy about these times ; I feel, here is a voice people need to hear to inspire our empathy and engage our imaginations for Humane solutions. I show pictures of the people of my pueblo at a lecture at NAU Social Diversity Class. Their faces glow in the darkened classroom. I hope the students will remember something of these faces when they hear the news. These warm faces I have come to love as I do the land. They are deep lined, aquiline ; obsidian and green; strong and undulating; beautiful. The land and people of all ages, education levels, ask, " Why do the Americans want to hate us?"

I reflect on the American Dream I remember from first grade as I stood and learnt the Pledge of Allegiance. How does it fit into the reality of now? Somehow the dream still remains and that's perhaps what we need to remember and work towards globally.

I don't think the answers lie in our governments but within ourselves and our communities. I am inspired in the examples of binational collaborations; people working together to build homes, grow gardens, and community enrichment.

This letter a song for the people. Gracias Citlali for letting me share your heart's song.

Viva México, y Que Muera el Mal Gobierno

Estimad@s, Dear everyone,

It's been a tough year for me after coming back from our last field season in Chihuahua last Fall. Things were ok in the sierra and, most likely out of sheer luck, me and Marissa completed our work and collected plants for my dissertation. Since then, it feels like everything has spiraled downwards in my beloved country. I've been back a couple times since the end of our last field season, and every time it seems like the flimsy foundations that held the social order keep coming down up to the point where I often feel like I have no country. My idea of México is altered, perhaps even blinded, by love. I close my eyes and I see its amazing landscapes, its beautiful and kind people, its cultural and artistic expressions, its rich and complex history, its amazing food. I open my eyes and I see despair and violence, a country taken over by bloodshed and horrendous crimes. Everyday. Things don't seem to be getting any better, and today, the whole country has undergone a stupid and unnecessary celebration of Independence.

Eight years ago I went back to work in México as soon as I finished my masters; I had the opportunity to stay in the US and work here but decided to leave all that behind and work for my country. Contribute with my ideas and my passion. Now, I feel that by sheer luck I live in a voluntary and comfortable exile. The news in México are just that, letters on my computer screen that I can choose not to read nor to assimilate. I open my eyes and all I see is beauty, the mountains and the pines of northern Arizona watch over me as I easily live in this protected nook.

I don't know what will happen with México. I don't even know if I have the passion and energy to go back and try to fix things (can "it" be fixed or is it broken?). I may just settle for comfort over fighting battles in the desert.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the Independence from the Spanish crown. Our government chose to celebrate it lavishly, with no regard for the 30,000 people that have died in the past four years as victims of the "war on drugs" (again, the omission of the obvious connection between drug dealing and poverty and inequality seems to be left outside the equation of rationality that is delivered every day by the press releases from the state). No regard for the acts of violence perpetrated against women in Ciudad Juárez and other cities in the country. No regard for the people that have been kidnapped and mutilated in this country where the only effective law is the "Ley de Herodes."

I really enjoyed reading this editorial: http://www.proceso.com.mx/rv/modHome/detalleExclusiva/83336. It is a call to rise in arms against the oppresor. The oppressor, in this globalized world is not just the government. The oppressor is NAFTA, the oppressor are the multinationals and corporations that preach economic gain as the beginning and end of everything. The oppressor, perhaps, is also me, silent accomplice that chooses ego over community, self-gratification above anything.

For those of you that are in México, I send you love and strength. I also apologize for writing in English, it comes easier to me these days. For those of you elsewhere, please send good energy and good thoughts to my country that these days has many bullet-holes going through it, draining it.

¡Que Viva México, y Que Muera el Mal Gobierno!

Citlali Cortés Montaño

¡Que permanezca la tierra!
¡Que estén en pie los montes!
Ayocuan Cuetzpaltzin, el sabio, águila blanca, de Tecamachalco. Siglo XV.

28 August 2010

LIving On the Border Karl Hoffman

"The border is not just a place. It is the thinnest line between the lives of human beings, subject to different laws, cultures and heritage, yet intertwining for generations "
Karl Hoffman's work on the border is powerful as it is sensitive. It opens your heart to see the human issues of people caught in between. A self published movie; a reflection of on the borderlands.

27 August 2010

The Other Side of the Fence; A Love Song for Mexico

I am grateful for this opportunity to share a window to the other side of the border and share a few stories with you published today in Flagstaff's local art/news paper FlagLIVE:Cover Story;The Other Side of the Fence Written by Penelope Bass

I hope to continue fostering a creative dialogue to help inspire change and raise awareness and alternative solutions to address the complex issues we are being confronted with and show our shared cultural connections as well as examples of bi national cooperation of what is possible in these dark and complex times. I hope to reflect the great humanity and history that has been my inspiration and motivation to learn about our shared connections to each other and the land called the Americas. Please join me on the visual odyssey and cross over to the other side.

For more information on Casas Grandes,Chihuahua please visit:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” –Martin Luther King Jr.

In a land where cultural connections run like roadmaps—where German Mennonites live alongside Mexican farmers, where archaeological ruins mirror those in our own back yard, where chocolate and turquoise crossed paths—our most basic connection, a shared humanity, is suffering, severed by political borders.

For the last three years, local photographer Raechel Running has been living and traveling throughout the borderlands of Mexico. With the new exhibit “Sueños de Aztlan: Journey of the Plumed Serpent,” Running is sharing her experiences and her photos from a community and a people who have shown her warmth, kindness and a shared history.

Life in the Borderlands

A section of chain link fence covers the large front window at the Flagstaff Photography Center, the cold, gray metal contrasted against several red roses woven through the links. Inside, a collection of photos—selected from thousands that were taken— represents the traditions, compassion and joyfulness of a culture whose people are rarely depicted as anything other than drug smugglers, human traffickers and illegal immigrants in the media lately.

“The hospitality and the kindness and the diversity and the richness of the culture is what has really inspired me,” Running explains. “I find that everyday is like a field trip or an opportunity to learn something I have never known.”

Running originally traveled to Mexico to work on a piece for a magazine about master potter Juan Quezada. The story fell through, but Running was invited to stay as an artist-in-residence by her hosts and friends Spencer and Emi MacCallum, who have been instrumental in reviving the arts in areas of Mexico. Running stays in a home in Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, about two and a half hours south of the border on Highway 89. What was supposed to be a three-month stint turned into three years as Running found herself pulled deeper into the culture and its history.

“Usually when we learn history we never get the stories, we just get the facts. But by living in Mexico, you get the stories,” Running says. “The place where I live is the place where the first battle of the Mexican Revolution began. Up the road there is a field where much of the produce that comes to America is grown. Within 930 miles there are all these connections.”
The more stories she learned, the more connections she discovered —between Mexican communities and the Mormon settlements, between ancient agricultural practices and current organic farming, between the ruins at Wupatki and those at Paquimé. She studied ranching, farming and conservation efforts. She found herself riding horseback across ancient trade routes. She communicated wordlessly with a small community of Mennonites.

“It’s sort of the project that keeps leading me; you could describe it as peeling an onion,” gushes Running in a nearly non-stop stream of consciousness. “It’s almost like an outline that I keep following in different directions, and it’s been over three years and I still feel that even if I do another 40 years of work I’ll barely have scratched the surface.”

She continues, “It’s been really fascinating to see the story. And part of my work is to tell these stories and to help other people learn that there are these stories. I really feel that we need to look at where we come from and what our history is and what really happened in this landscape thousands of years ago as we are looking at the problems that we’re facing now. The fear and the hate and the racism that is happening right now—I just feel that if people could learn and be inspired to look beyond and get re- educated and re-acknowledge the history of the greater Southwest, that that could make a change.

“When people say things like ‘Go back to where you come from,’ they don’t realize that they’re actually on old, indigenous Mexican lands; that the borders are manmade, but that hasn’t changed people’s relationship to the land.”

Making the connection

When SB 1070 was introduced and signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer, outrage spread rapidly across the state and the country. Many hailed it for finally taking action on long-neglected immigration policies while others decried it for being blatantly racist and furthering an environment of fear and hatred. Living down in Mexico, Running was afforded a unique perspective on the controversial issue.

“The show is kind of to address the SB 1070 not through hate, but by showing what
is on the other side of the fence; what is on the other side of hate, on the other side of fear,” Running explains. “We’re inundated with this negative viewpoint and I don’t think it’s helping the dialogue at all. What I’ve chosen to photograph is also what I’ve experienced and what I’ve seen. I just felt like this was my responsibility, that this is how I could perhaps bring understanding to our community and also be a representative of the people I’ve met … they can’t come here and speak, and part of my responsibility is to help people see these other people—to see our humanity. The hardest part for me, recently with the passing of SB 1070 is that the everyday people from my community, they ask, ‘Why do the Americans hate us?’ And these are older people, and they just don’t understand what the racism is because they feel that they are part of this America.”

The inclusive nature of Running’s exhibit, which includes not only her photographs and photo collages but also Mata Ortiz pottery and Mennonite quilts, is an example of the connections she discovered and what her mentor Spencer MacCallum refers to as “artistic fluorescence.”

“These activities create beauty and functionality, and those are things that bring the community together and help us to dialogue and learn about each other,” says Running. “Most people don’t know anything about the people living on the other side of the fence.”

Ultimately, Running says she hopes that people will use her exhibit as an opportunity to look beyond borders, both political and those within us. “This disaster and this hate is an opportunity for us to become re-educated and to open our hearts to learn how to become more human,” she says. “If you get that personal experience, it might change your world view. Each of these photographs has an aspect of the story. It’s about being open to each other’s stories or to learn the story, because that’s when the story becomes universal.”

Because politics is a slow-moving beast, Running says she has seen the most positive results in across-the-border cooperation through smaller community groups and projects to promote education, cultural arts, health care, housing and community gardens. Most recently, Running has been working with two ongoing projects: Rancho Feliz, which helps to create community relationships and to increase the availability of health care and education, and Somos La Semilla, which is working to find community food solutions.

“Walls don’t work. What works is providing people the opportunities necessary for them to live and raise their families with dignity in their own country,” says Gil Gillenwater, founder of Rancho Feliz.

“The work is hopeful and brings people together to create human solutions overcoming the politics and fear,” adds Running. She says that understanding can come through a reconnection of our humanity, and while her show does coincide with a political issue, the real story is about people.

“Initially, I think I envisioned it being a little more political, but then this is what it evolved to. It is more like a love song. It’s from this place of people being in between, like an unrequited love. And people wanting to connect; I think there is an aspect of humanity that wants to connect. We’re not really taught how to do that, and less and less so. When people find it, it’s like water. It’s quenches something within them and lets something else grow.”

“Sueños de Aztlan” is on display at the Flagstaff Photography Center, 107 N. San Francisco, until Fri, Sept. 17. For more info, call 774-2544 or visit
www.flagstaffph otographycenter.com. For more about Raechel Running, or to see more examples of her work, visit her Web site at www.raechelrunning.com.

22 August 2010

Reaching Beyond Borders :

Reaching Beyond Borders : Arizona Daily Sun by Betsy Bruner

Thank you Betsy Bruner for covering Suenos De Aztlan. I am grateful for the opportunity to share the observations and connections I've seen along the borderlands. When the people of my pueblo, young and old, ask me, "Why do Americans, Arizonans hate us? " what am I to say? It is a sense of shame to be an Arizonan; but also I am one of those whose life is inspired by Arizonians and the diversity that makes up the amazing history of our state. Is it possible to be ashamed and proud at the same time of what it means to be an Arizonian whose life has been shaped by the cultures of Arizona; Mexicans and Native American cultures their history is entwined with the landscape. How is it that people like Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe redefine Arizona's identity with such disregard of human dignity. It is what compels me to look beyond and see how to weave ourselves, communities and families back together.

Today it is raining and I think of the Snake Ceremony at HOPI and the Katchinas and the ancient Gods of this land. I think of the path of the Plumed Serpent whether from South America as some say or Meso America and what a journey it was to go on a quest to help one's people. I smell the rain as it falls outside my window. How many Hopi dances on the Mesas I've seen since I was was a little girl watching the clouds for imaginary pictures as I laid on the backseat looking through the car window; the empty landscapes; the red earth; the heat of summer; the coldness of grape or orange soda in glass bottles clinked out of old bottle coolers. I think of all the young Hopi Homies wearing Heavy Metal shirts, Bob Marley, Marijuana, Sponge Bob, Phoenix Suns and Mi Vida Loca shirts standing with their grandmas; the grandmas holding beautiful fat babies; families gathered close; under umbrellas and multicolored shawls making shade against the sun or shielding from the rain. I remember the songs I've heard; a rhythm, a connection to Spirit, God, Nature, humankind.... I squint my eyes to remember the years I've come here to listen, to watch and learn ; to feel in my Soul this mysterious union.

There is so much still not in the exhibition and I hope some of you will peruse the site and be inspired. It is because of my time in Mexico and learning what I have that I am inspired to look again to my backyard history in Arizona. I hope that people will be inspired to make their own connections and see what we share so we may develop better policies between our countries. It is one to one we can have make a difference as we experience the world overcome fear and alienation by seeing the bigger picture.

There is much gratitude and the show is a labor of love of the many people who I am blessed to call friends and family on both sides of the frontera who support this endeavor and keep me on the path to do my work and follow the muse.

Here's some links and clarifications from the story for those of you who want to know more!

Emi and Spencer Mac Callum; Hosts with the most-est!

A place where cultures, art, & science meet. Travel and cultural information.
Cultural ambassadors of good will and always game for a field trip. Spencer is an Anthropologist and they advocate cultural understanding and the arts of the Casas Grandes Region and for cultivating the Mata Ortiz Pottery Movement.

Francisco I. Madero injured in the Battle of Casas Grandes on March 6, 1911

Hopi Snake Ceremony; 1913

On the path of rain. Was it a thousand years ago or yesterday people gathered on roof tops and waited for the ceremony to begin? Traditions continue; the songs and prayers; the ceremony for rain and the fields of corn....feathers touch appeased snakes in the sacred space of corn meal ; the plaza full of grandparents holding babies; Hopi Homies; young people and old; extended families gather close; long shadows play and light dances on the Katchinas; The Sacred mountain in the distance healing from fire and rain is a shade of lavender blue - modern and ancient times merge along the horizon with clouds forming. Are they more beautiful than I remember? because I am more aware of them? or because I know clouds know no borders. I think of all the places I've been and seen; the stories of the plumed serpent compelling me further south to lands unknown; I stood in front of the Temple of the Serpent and climb the Temple of the Sun. I reflect on my winter's journey. Memories of talking with medicine people selling tourist trinkets and making altars on the corner of the bustling Zocolo of Mexico City. I felt so far from home as I knew it and yet it's all connected to the story of Tiyo, the Hopi man who went on the journey through Grand Canyon all the way to the Red City to the south-to help his people in a time of drought. How is it we're so connected by technology and yet feel compelled to create walls? and disconnected from our neighbors? those who live next door and who are our neighboring countries. The Ramamuri dance their Yamari and keep to their traditions as do the Hopis- Copper Canyon, the Mesas, Arizona, Chihuahua. There is a mystery enduring and I pray for peace, love, and understanding. I am grateful for the journey and to share what I've seen and felt. A song of soft rain. The snakes carry the prayers to the earth and the rain clouds come.


File:Kabotie Mural in Desert View Watchtower.jpg

13 August 2010

Raechel Running Suenos de Aztlan FPCshow

Slideshow of my current work at the Flagstaff PHOTO Center.
This has been an experiment with youtube and flickr to see how a visual presentation works in a new medium. A bit of late night editing and holding your mouth right. Hope you enjoy the virtual tour. Gracias!!!

12 August 2010

Sebastiao Salgado: The Photographer as Activist

The photographer as activist. I am looking forward to this; Passion, visual stories from an intimate point of view. How to be socially engaged? Through art? a newspaper? the computer? How do we keep our eyes open to help frame our future? Pixelpress.org

Silent words of Saints: The work of Luis Carlos Bernal

The work of Luis Carlos Bernal speaks of old dust; still in an abandoned house or wild on the wind of some dusty road between the middle lands of the us/mexico border. Pool halls, old vatos when they were young; family and the silent words of saints speaking from pools of light. Luis listened with his camera and his heart.

I remember meeting him with my family when I was a kid. Kind face and smiling BIG. His book sits on my table in the Casa Azul where I look at his photo everyday. Sometimes I have coffee with the people in between the pages and wonder what he felt; what compelled him to document; He made a funny series of contemporary AZTEC warriors doing the suburb thing.

At the show opening we talk about photographers looking at the border issues.
To revisit Bernal's work inspires me to continue to do what I am doing.
One day when I was doubting myself my dad wrote me and sent me a set of images he had just made in jpgs; it simply said, "This is what we do." We make pictures. It's our work; and best of all is when people get to look at it and connect with the image that is larger than just the lens that caught it. Maybe it is like silent prayers; it's an act of alchemy even in the digital age. Something can transmute between a piece of paper and the soul of us touched by the play of shadow and light.

10 August 2010

Good Neighbor Awards: Gil Gillenwater: Slideshow

" Walls don't work.
What works is providing people the opportunities
necessary for them to live and raise their families
with dignity in their own country."

07 August 2010

Suenos de Atzlan: Showtime!

Packing out the Casa Azul always seems to take days to disengage and get it all in the Mariachi Mobile. Saying adios to Emi and Spencer and missing them before I've even turned the corner. The long 11 hour drive home is different because I have a Mexican cat with papers : ) She ends up sitting on my lap most of the way. Charms the border guards and we cross the lines with no more than a blink of an eye. It's a relief. The old road from Polomas is being repaved. The roadside shrines that have been my markers along the curves have been blown up in the name of progress... I wave goodbye to St. Jude wondering if he'll be gone the next time I cross back over. It makes me feel sentimental. Roads change everything. The volcanic landscape green from the rains- it is so hard to leave when the world is so beautiful and the headlines of the day don't seem to exist when the natural world is resplendent in the natural patterns of the seasons.

I don't get to my northern home til midnight after driving through the beautiful landscapes of western New Mexico with the kitty on my lap/ on my head/ walking across the dashboard; draped over the steering column; under my feet. How do I explain the new world she's about to encounter? How far we are from our humble life in el Pueblo. I watch the plateau of Northern Arizona lay open as I pass through St. John to Holbrook. Country western and old 80's rocks on the ipod. I tuned into KUYI radio. I pause by the upper reaches along the banks of the Little Colorado and think of sacred corn floating downstream in currents of red sands, swirling down, down to the confluence of the main stem of the Colorado to merge back to the sea and follow the path of rain back into clouds; to be drawn again to the land by the songs of ancient spirits and mythic Gods of nature. I follow Thaloc and the plumed serpent's movements in clouds and turn west to the San Francisco Peaks; the Sacred mountain calls.

Showtime. I always have a BLOCK to except how much time goes into a show. Months; years; thousands of photographs. Moments I want to share. Ideas. Stories. Editing. and more editing. Printer gremlins and late night inspirations.

Studiolandia. A repository of my life before Mexico. The dust grows in layers of the seasons to be brushed away.Running helps me to print. Jason takes down Chip's show. He finds the perfect coca cola red. Print. edit. print. Peter discovers the mysterious 300 G of comprised space on the hard drive; printing; framing;jump drives and photoshop marathons; editing and archiving; remembering; faces; stories. the wind in the sierra prairies; rain Gods and thunder; Living with the work; moving it around. Prints on tables. on the floor. on the walls. The work goes from studio to studio- images fly around; different stories are told in the sequencing- I want to include more stories. Jason makes the call. Go with the flow. it feels like a miracle when it all comes together.5 pm. We hi-5 over beans and rice. una.dos.tres. We could never imagined coordinating the events on the square as I move through the folklorico dancers; young flowers blooming in the summer monsoon. Los Compadres warms up the ambiante;my dad brings me roses and jason laces them into the fence. the musica begins. friends and familia. the stories are shared. laughter. sentimental tears. clowns and serpents. there are few pictures to show the reconnections of so many layers of Flagstaff's community. At 11pm the lights go down and the first drops of a beautiful rain.