Southwest Folklife Alliance connected Artists At Work and THE OFFICE with four southern Arizona traditional artists for the 2023 program. Artists At Work (AAW) leverages the power and creativity of artists to respond to local community needs across a range of issues including mental health, antiracism, environmental justice and climate resiliency, substance abuse recovery, and youth welfare. Each AAW Artist is paired with a participating cultural organization and paid a living wage salary to do two things: to continue to make art, and to be embedded in a local social impact initiative that will benefit from their skills and creative thinking. The idea is to give stable employment to artists — so they can keep being artists — and simultaneously integrate their creative problem solving into the local ecosystem so that communities can move together towards a more sustainable and just future.
Learn more about each artist as well as the projects they completed with AAW funding.
Annetta Koruh (she/her)
In partnership with Hopi Tewa Women’s Coalition to End Abuse, Nita began hosting weekly art making workshops to share the spiritual and healing practice of basket weaving and other art forms. Nita is pausing her commitment at the moment to care for her husband who is currently hospitalized, but has continued to work on projects with a commitment to preserving Hopi tradition and creating a safe place for people of all ages to come together.
Keith Johnson (he/him)
Keith is working with students at HIRSCH Academy and the Paiute Neighborhood Center City of Scottsdale Social Services to compose and perform their own original music. Understanding the enriching skills and knowledge acquired through the study of music, Keith encourages his students to come together to work in harmony, melody and rhythm.
“By understanding the contribution music makes to culture and history, students are better prepared to live and work in multicultural settings.”
Guadalupe Mario Valencia (he/him)
Mario is working with Yaqui tribal elders and youth to find creative ways to preserve their language and culture. Offering space for intergenerational sharing and reflection to address the challenges they face, Mario is creating visual responses to the stories and experiences they share. So far Mario has created two paintings representing the seweyalio, The Enchanted World, to be hung in Pascua Yaqui Assisted Living. More projects, including plans to make a language book, are forthcoming.
Tanisha Tucker Lohse (she/her)
Guided by the teachings of her mother, Tanisha is working to preserve traditional harvesting practices and restore native food ways. She is developing recipes with native foods, discussing history, and hosting community tastings and classes in partnership with Tohono O’Odham Young Voices podcast. Their first monthly podcast episode highlights the work they hope to accomplish over the term, including plans for public workshops during the annual saguaro harvesting season that runs from May through June.