Roxanne Swentzell: In Honoring Moving Arts Espanola


IMG_5843Sculptor Roxanne Swentzell speaks at Saturday’s Moving Arts Espanola Gala. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

Santa Clara Pueblo

Editor’s note: The following are the remarks made by renowned sculptor Roxanne Swentzell, guest speaker at the Moving Arts Espanola Gala Saturday evening. 

I love this valley.  I am from this valley.  When I think about this place between mountains and sky, along the Rio Grande or Po’songeh, I think about our ancestors.  I think about what they did, what they figured out that made it possible for us to exist today.  My ancestors (the ancient Puebloan people) roamed these canyons, mountains, riverbeds and arroyos, making homes out of pumice, rock, and dirt, farming the land to grow food for their families…making a life out of what was here.

Before we go forward, let us stop and thank those that came before us for their hard work, their perseverance, …and their creativity.  For without their ability to imagine what could be, we would not have such things as…our amazing traditions in agriculture and foods, clothing, architecture, arts, languages along with songs and dances.  We have such a rich cultural valley between all the peoples that found a home here.  So let us take this moment to remember our ancestors as the veil between now and then, between the living and the dead, is thin during All Souls Day.

“With great respect, humility, forgiveness and gratitude, we remember you, those who have come before and laid the paths we walk today.  We hear you in the wind and see you in the faces that we meet in town and in our neighborhoods.  We feel your heart happy with the smiles on our children’s faces.  And we have a sense we’re not alone.  Thank you for watching over us.  Thank you for always trying to remind us what is the right path to take.  Today we stop and welcome your wisdom, your compassion, your forgiveness, and your encouragement to be even better.  Thank you.”

New Mexico is sometimes referred to as the last of the Wild West.  Holding still to the old life-ways we have resisted the waves of corporate America as best we could because we value who we were and who we are.  We are a proud valley of hardcore culturalists, even able to co-exist between races that sometimes have conflicting beliefs and traditions for hundreds of years.  We know how to survive!  What makes a people so tough?  Some may say pure stubbornness, but I say, it is our hearts’ that make us strong.  We have great passion, great love..,great love for what we hold dear.  And what does the heart do with this great passion?  It loves to express it in all the ways it can find to express it.  We’ve expressed it in so many ways reaching to every aspect of our lives.  We express it in our artwork everywhere. We make art out of building, farming, our clothes, our cars, our hair, our languages, our dances, our foods, our tools and our walk and our talk. If you add up the strength of our people all the way back to our ancestors with the passion in our hearts, you get a very powerful mix of creative energy to work with.  So here we are, loaded with all the right forces to expand in the ways that we choose.

So let us choose well.

Among this concentrated Espanola Valley cocktail, we have a gem of talent, perseverance, inspiration, grace, strength, creative ingenuity, passion, and love guiding our most precious belongings, our children.  I am here to help congratulate and honor Roger Montoya and his creation of Moving Arts.  Roger holds the Valley’s best qualities and I’m so happy that the world saw and awarded him a CNN Hero.  Roger is a hero to those who care about our future, to those that believe in creating a better world using our talents and gifts to come up with a life that honors our past, our ancestor’s wisdom, with the responsibility of what we hand to the next generations.

He has asked the questions: What are we handing to our children?  How do we give them the best tools to help them create a world that is good for all living things?  How do we create a language, a song, a dance for this new world to come?

With the help of Salvador Ruiz, and all those who support Moving Arts, we thank you for helping to raise our children to believe in themselves with programs that help them love the cultures they are from and finding ways of expressing it. Moving Arts holds space for creative energies to find expression. It is so important for us as a community to find creative healthy ways to express in order to heal and grow in new and wonderful ways.

 I stand by Roger in requesting that we put our great hearts together, our passion of tradition and place, with our creative minds and all our unleashed talents to manifest a sustainable, loving world, for all. For then, our ancestor’s work will not be in vain, nor ours!   And joy can be timeless and beautiful…Thank you.