A project of The Academy for the Love of Learning
in partnership with 516 ARTS & community organizations
“Their story, yours and mine – it’s what we all carry with us on this trip we take, and we owe it to each other to respect our stories and learn from them.” William Carlos Williams
“If you don’t know the trees you may be lost in the forest, but if you don’t know the stories you may be lost in life.” Siberian Elder
El Otro Lado: The Other Side is a community-based arts project launched by The Academy for the Love of Learning in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Conceived by artist Chrissie Orr in 2007, it engages an interdisciplinary, creative process to explore our human connection to land, our sense of home and belonging, and our sense of boundaries and cultural divides. Students participate through a process of sharing and witnessing of the individual and collective story. Lead artists Chrissie Orr and Michelle Otero believe that each of us has an authentic voice and extraordinary story to unwrap and share. Through in-depth, intergenerational, cross-cultural workshops, participants access and express their individual stories through the use of journaling, recorded oral narratives, photography, visual arts and written expression. These visual and audio stories are then presented in various community locations to be witnessed and shared by the larger community.
Through the creative process our stories come together to produce powerful images, give voice, and empower us to re-imagine our lives.
516 ARTS has teamed up with The Academy for the Love of Learning and Connecting Community Voices to co-present El Otro Lado: The Other Side - Albuquerque in 2009 and 2010, which builds on the project in Santa Fe presented there by The Academy for the Love of Learning. In intergenerational, cross-cultural workshops, participants tell their stories through the use of journaling, recorded oral narratives, photography, visual arts and written expression. In 2009, the public took part in workshops at Bernalillo County's Raymond Sanchez Community Center, Los Padillas Community Center and Paradise Hills Community Center as part of the LAND/ART project. In 2010, the public was invited to participate in free workshops at West Side Community Center and Barelas Senior Center, and Chrissie Orr and Michelle Otero are continuing to lead workshops with the Native American Community Academy and at Plaza de Encuentro Gathering Space (a consortium of groups consisting of El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, Enlace Comunitario and Southwest Creations Collaborative).
PART 1: El Otro Lado Albuquerque Video by Nicole Lewin with input from Chrissie Orr
PART 2: EL Otro Lado Albuquerque Video by Nicole Lewin with input from Chrissie Orr
Born in Scotland, Chrissie Orr received a MFA degree from Edinburgh College of Art and then proceeded to develop her skills as an artist in unconventional places and ways. She was a circus performer throughout Europe, a muralist in Corsica and has created community arts projects in Australia, Iran, Turkey, Europe, Mexico and America. She was co-director of Arran Community Arts Project, Isle of Arran, Scotland, which was one of the first rural arts projects to be funded by the Scottish Arts Council. She was Community Artist for East Lothian, where she developed innovative projects gathering stories from diverse communities. As founder of the nationally acclaimed Teen Project in Santa Fe, New Mexico, her vision and skills were recognized by the US Congress and NEA and she has been nominated for numerous awards for her work with youth. She has lectured internationally on her work and process, especially the Bridge Project that addressed issues on the border between El Paso, Texas, U.S. and Juarez, Mexico. She launched El Otro Lado: The Other Side, an interdisciplinary community arts project, in collaboration with The Academy for the Love of Learning in Santa Fe, and has expanded it to Albuquerque in partnership with 516 ARTS.
Michelle Otero is a writer, teacher and performer. She is the author of Malinche's Daughter (Momotombo Press, 2006), an essay collection based on her work with women survivors of sexual assault in Oaxaca, Mexico. Her work has appeared in Artful Dodge, Brevity, and Puerto del Sol, and she has been a featured reader and presenter at universities and communities throughout the U.S. and Mexico. She is a co-founder of Connecting Community Voices, an Albuquerque-based organization that combines creative expression and digital media to drive positive social change. She has received numerous fellowships, including from the McCune Foundation, the Anderson Center, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and a Fulbright. She is a member of the Macondo Writers Workshop and performs with Las Meganenas, a repertory theatre troupe that uses performance to raise awareness of issues facing Latinas. She is tenth-generation New Mexican and Creative Director of Valle Encantado, an organization promoting sustainable development initiatives in the Atrisco historic core in Albuquerque. She is collaborating with Chrissie Orr on the Albuquerque portion of El Otro Lado: The Other Side in partnership with 516 ARTS.
El Otro Lado: The Other Side Albuquerque
project and exhibition catalog available here for download as a pdf
El Otro Lado: The Other Side - Albuquerque is presented by 516 ARTS, The Academy for the Love of Learning,
Connecting Community Voices, and partnering organizations El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, Southwest
Creations Collaborative and Enlace Comunitario. This project is supported in part by the McCune Foundation, New Mexico Humanities
Council, Albert I. Pierce Foundation, New Mexico Council on Photography, and Wells Fargo.
images (top to bottom, left to right): Chrissie Orr & participants at Los Padillas Community Center, El Otro Lado: The Other Side - Albuquerque, detail from installation on the D-Ride buses, 2009 project supported in part by Bernalillo County Public Art Program; Chrissie Orr; Michelle Otero, photo courtesy Henry Rael.