STEMarts Lab and SALA Begin Collaboration On Empowering Youth Through Art, Science And Technology

Discussing SALA collaboration ideas with STEMArts Lab are, from left, Allan Saenz, Agnes Chavez, SALA volunteer Kevin Holsapple, NMSBA PI Dave Modl, and Steve Smith of Los Alamos Visualization Associates. Courtesy photo


STEMarts Lab and SALA Event Center are joining forces to prepare young minds for the 21st-century workplace through a groundbreaking collaboration. The work of STEMarts Lab to empower youth through art, science, and technology will be brought together with the growing immersive experience capabilities of SALA to provide new kinds of educational opportunities in Northern NM.  Together, they hope to create a unique platform that can reshape the way we perceive education and prepare youth for the next generation for success.

STEMarts Lab is a non-profit organization based in Taos founded and led by Agnes Chavez, an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and social entrepreneur. In her art, Chavez experiments with data visualization, sound, and projection art to create participatory experiences that explore our relationship with nature and technology.  In her STEMarts Lab work, she has developed multiple programs designed to engage students in hands-on STEAM learning experiences. These programs are delivered throughout the world to foster innovation and collaboration and help prepare students for the rapidly changing 21st-century workplace.

SALA has undertaken what they call an “immersive initiative” to make immersive experience capabilities a part of the mix of what the venue offers to the local and regional scene.  “We want to be a welcoming venue and set of capabilities for artists, educators, technologists, and scientists to do their work and tell their stories through the medium of immersive experience,” says SALA owner Allan Saenz.  “STEMarts Lab is doing some really impressive work around the world, and we want to be a welcoming venue in Los Alamos for their work and that of other local and regional businesses and groups.”

STEMarts Lab programs include hands-on boot camps, STEAM education for teachers, and a STEMarts Ambassador Program, designed to train youth in creating sci-art experiences with virtual reality technologies. Students become part of an immersive mixed-reality installation and international youth exchange program called “Space Messengers” that travels to festivals in New Mexico and around the world.

SALA and STEMarts Lab are already working together on establishing the feasibility of bringing the 2024 version of Space Messengers to SALA during Science Fest 2024.  The STEMarts Lab Ambassador Program is actively recruiting youth participants now, aged 14-29 to join the Space Messengers team and play a role in the 2024 event.  More information is available at

SALA is in the midst of sourcing financing to continue the conversion of one of its four theaters into an immersive experience space.  Early funding successes such as a recent TEAM award from the Regional Development Corporation have enabled the acquisition of the required media server and other important technology.  An example is the purchase of an array of 360 cameras.  SALA has made cameras available to PAC-8 locally and now STEMArts Lab to use in content creation within their existing activities.

“We want to be a great venue for STEMarts Lab’s 2024 festival and we think it will be a great feature of Sciencefest 2024,” said Saenz.  “I am so jazzed from our meeting here in Los Alamos and super inspired by what SALA is doing and has envisioned,” says Chavez about initiating the collaboration.  

SALA has been doing outreach to seek many different collaborations with others in the area.  For this year’s Sciencefest  Discovery Day on Saturday, July 8th 2023, SALA will be collaborating with regional technology companies SimTable and SciVista to present multiple exhibits at SALA titled “Enter the World of Immersive Experience”.  These exhibits will not be at Ashley Pond but are a close walk away at SALA.  “We have at least half a dozen conversations in progress with individuals, businesses, and organizations in the region and we have been reaching out for even more,” says Saenz. “We want the SALA venue and capabilities to be a catalyst for many collaborations in our area focused around storytelling, new media, scientific visualization, and immersive art and technologies.”