26 December 2010
12 November 2010
10 November 2010
06 November 2010
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
23 October 2010
21 October 2010
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.
17 September 2010
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.
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.
29 August 2010
28 August 2010
27 August 2010
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.
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
13 August 2010
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
10 August 2010
07 August 2010
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.