Skip to Content

mobile icon menu
mobile icon menu
mobile icon menu
mobile icon menu
mobile icon menu
icon menu
icon menu
icon menu
icon menu
icon menu

What happens when a physicist from CERN, a Lakota water protector, a Tewa educator and a new media artist meet with 26 Taos fourth and fifth graders?

Perhaps, opposing worldviews will converge to create a new balance in the universe!
By Janet Webb

“Lakota Cosmology Meets Particle Physics” is a youth workshop at Taos Integrated School for the Arts (TISA) organized by their new STEAM Lab@TISA coordinator, artist-educator, Agnes Chavez. On Monday, April 10, students from Megan Bowers Avina’s TISA classroom will spend the morning with Dr. Steven Goldfarb (CERN Physicist) and Steve Tamayo (Lakota Cultural Specialist and Water Protector) exploring the mystery of Dark Matter through the lens of two worldviews. Megan explains, “Agnes and I have been working with the TISA students for weeks preparing them with creative activities on Dark Matter and native science-western science worldviews. The kids are incredibly talented, compassionate, and have developed insight on the possibilities of what makes up Dark Matter, even impressing the scientist from CERN with their theories.”
The two-day workshop is part of the Projecting Particles Project, introduced during The PASEO 2014 – which also included a virtual collaboration with Dr. Goldfarb and the ATLAS Experiment at CERN. Now Dr. Goldfarb will appear in person to explain the Large Hadron Collider, the largest particle accelerator in the world, and how it is used to discover particles that are the key to our understanding of the universe. With Standing Rock water protector, Steve Tamayo, students will learn the indigenous way of using science to relate to the physical world. The students will participate in the building of a Lakota tipi as they hear metaphorical stories that share the cosmological observations of indigenous peoples. Guided by the research and wisdom of Dr. Cajete, the interdisciplinary team will encourage youth to imagine a new worldview that combines science, technological and life-sustaining ecology that is in balance with nature.
With artist Agnes Chavez, students will transfer their newly created stories into animated electronic graphics to be projected inside of the tipi, creating an installation that they will share with the community at a live performance on April 11. Chavez will be assisted by three Taos High School students, all of whom have participated in past Projecting Particles workshops where they learned the Tagtool animation tool from Paseo artist and Tagtool app developer, Markus Dorninger.
The public will be able view a video documenting “Lakota Cosmology Meets Particle Physics” in three different roundtable discussions  – in Taos, Espanola and Santa Fe.
Quick View:
April 10-11 – Lakota Cosmology Meets Particle Physics: Exploring Dark Matter
Youth Workshop for TISA students at Taos Youth and Family Center (limited press passes available)
April 11, 7:00 – 9:00pm – Live public viewing of student projection inside Lakota tipi
Taos Youth and Family Center, 407 Paseo del Cañon East, Taos
April 12, 6:00pm – Public Roundtable Discussion with Video of TISA workshop
Harwood Museum of Art, 238 Ledoux Street, Taos
April 13, noon-2:00pm – Public Roundtable Discussion with Video of TISA workshop
Northern New Mexico Community College, 2921 N Paseo de Onate, Española
April 13, 6:00pm – Public Roundtable Discussion with Video of TISA workshop
Biocultura, 1505 Agua Fria Street, Santa Fe

About the participants of “Lakota Cosmology Meets Particle Physics”
Dr. Steve Goldfarb is a physicist from the University of Melbourne, working on the ATLAS Experiment at CERN in Geneva Switzerland. He is active in education and outreach, is the webmaster for the ATLAS public web pages, co-chair of the International Particle Physics Outreach Group, on-site coordinator of the REU Summer Student and Research Semester Abroad programs for American undergraduates at CERN, and advisory board member for Quarknet.
Steve Tamayo is based in Omaha Nebraska. He draws upon his family history as a member of the Sicangu Lakota tribe. His fine arts education (BFA from Singe Gleska University) along with his cultural upbringing have shaped him as an artist, historian, storyteller and dancer. Steve provides activities during his residencies that include art and regalia making, drumming, powwow dance demonstrations and lectures on the history, symbolism and meaning behind the Native customs and traditions. Most recently Steve led workshops with kids at Standing Rock Oceti Sakowin Camp.
Dr. Greg Cajete is a Native American educator whose work is dedicated to honoring the foundations of indigenous knowledge in education. Dr. Cajete is a Tewa Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico. He has served as a New Mexico Humanities scholar in ethno botany of Northern New Mexico and as a member of the New Mexico Arts Commission. Dr. Cajete has authored five books: Look to the Mountain: An Ecology of Indigenous Education, (Kivaki Press, 1994); Ignite the Sparkle: An Indigenous Science Education Curriculum Model, (Kivaki Press, 1999); Spirit of the Game: Indigenous Wellsprings (2004) , A People’s Ecology: Explorations in Sustainable Living, and Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence (Clearlight Publishers, 1999 and 2000).
Agnes Chavez is a new media artist and educator and co-director of The Paseo, working at the intersection of art, science, technology and social practice. She partners with scientists and programmers to explore our relationship to nature and technology through data visualization, sound and projections. Her recent installation, Origination Point, visualized the origins of matter and the Higgs Field, informed by a research stay at the ATLAS Experiment at CERN in 2015. Agnes is Co-Director of The PASEO, the outdoor participatory arts festival which brings projection, performance and installation art to the streets of Taos, New Mexico. In 2009 she founded the STEMarts Lab, which empowers youth through STEAM workshops that integrate science, technology and new media arts through social practice.
Megan Bowers Avina Is a nationally award-winning photojournalist and artist who has lived in Taos for over 20 years. Avina is the Art’s Curriculum Coordinator at the Taos Integrated School of the Arts and fourth grade teacher. Avina strives to create a classroom atmosphere of real world issues to inspire her students to become critical thinkers and instruments of positive change in their community/world. Avina is a graduate of Parsons School of Design and is currently obtaining her Masters of Fine Arts at UNM. Avina is ecstatic to have joined forces with Chavez in bringing an amazing curriculum to the students at the Taos Integrated School of the Arts.
Thanks to sponsors TISA and a grant from the Martin Foundation, ATLAS Experiment at CERN, Harwood Museum of The Arts, Taos Youth and Family Center and Northern New Mexico Community College.

How Standing Rock inspired a new STEAM youth curriculum

A visit to the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock has inspired a new STEAM curriculum for youth. Through a multicultural collaboration with indigenous educators, artists and particle physicists students will explore the correlations of indigenous cosmology to modern science through art and social practice.  The curriculum will focus on our human connection to nature, science and technology through diverse worldviews.

As an artist and Americorp VISTA working at the intersection of art, science, technology and education I focus on youth, inspiring them to discover who they are and their connection to their community and the world. So when I heard that Standing Rock was started by youth, supported by elders and sustained by over 300 tribal nations and countless activist organizations from around the world, I felt called to action. When I got there elders told me they felt it was their prayers calling people. I believe that Standing Rock is an important and transformational movement. I wanted to go in person to meet and support the youth leaders from the International Indigenous Youth Council (IIYC) and I had heard from Taos Pueblo drum maker, Christopher Lujan that someone had started a school at the camp for the over 200 kids living there. So I got together with Chris , Jason Rodriguez of ARTAOS and teacher, Megan Avina Bowers at TISA (Taos Integrated School of the Arts) and we designed a workshop for the kids which resulted in student-created banners which I delivered to the young water protectors.  They were so open and appreciative of this gift from the kids that they even took the time to record a video message for them. What impressed me most is that they are not just fighting the pipeline, they are focused on the idea of building a Just Transition Community grounded in prayer and modeling to the youth a new way to be in this world. I saw how they were focused on educating and raising awareness to the change that needs to happen to protect our natural and cultural resources for future generations, while understanding the important connection between ecological diversity and cultural diversity.

The media has not been covering this story, so the youth has taken to Facebook live streaming, drone footage from the front lines, and creating YouTube videos to communicate their message. The youth of Standing Rock are using the new Facebook live stream technology and free social media platform to  shake up the world and I came back wanting to continue this work in our schools and communities.

While there, I met Steve Tamayo, one of the Lakota teachers at the Oceti Sakowin school managed by Teresa Dzieglewicz who was living at the camp. Steve was sharing Lakota traditions while teaching kids how to build a Tipi.  I told him about a project I started in 2009 called Projecting Particles, collaborating with scientists at CERN, home of the particle accelerator in Switzerland. The workshops combine projection art and particle physics to explore new understandings of the universe.  We saw some fascinating correlations between traditional Lakota cosmology and modern particle physics.  We are now collaborating with CERN physicist, Dr. Steven Goldfarb,  to design a curriculum that explores these correlations through STEAM youth projects and a community lecture series. We hope that increasing understanding of radically new science concepts while building appreciation for the significance of indigenous cosmology and worldview can provide students with a meaningful, collaborative and unifying way to explore and understand the world around us.

Follow this blog to see how this project evolves.

Building Capacity for STEAM: Americorps Project expands into 2017

Two years ago I joined artist Andrea Polli and the Social Media Workgroup (SMW) as an Americorps VISTA. “Did you know that President Kennedy introduced the idea of VISTA to Congress in 1963? Or that many of the best-known anti-poverty programs, including Head Start and Credit Unions, were expanded by VISTA members? VISTA has been on the forefront of ending poverty in America for 50 years.” Check out the Americorps VISTA website to read more about this important program.

In 2014, SMW received its first Americorps/VISTA grant to launch the STEAM NM initiative: Building Capacity for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and the Arts) Education in New Mexico. Now renewed and expanded for its third year with VISTA, our STEAM NM core group includes SMW along with five partners: UNM STEM Collaborative, The School of Architecture + Planning and COSMIAC; the CNM Fuse Makerspace, and The PASEO/STEMarts in Taos. My role as the Taos VISTA is to innovate and network STEAM initiatives in Northern New Mexico. It has been an exciting year that has led to new local and global partnerships to expand youth opportunities in our communities. Read more about it on the Social Media Workgroup website and stay tuned for 2017 programming.

Projecting Particles: Lakota Cosmology Meets Particle Physics

MARCH 2017

A Spring 2017 workshop called Particle Physics Meets Lakota Cosmology is currently being designed for students at Taos Integrated School for the Arts (TISA) and we plan to take the workshop to multiple schools in New Mexico. Through a collaboration with Lakota Cultural Specialist, Steve Tamayo and CERN physicist Dr. Steven Goldfarb, students will explore the origins of the universe through Native American cosmology and particle physics experiments at CERN.  This project is part of the Projecting Particles series whose mission is to use art to explore the important discoveries in particle physics that are expanding our understanding of who we are and our place in the universe.

Students learn about the origins of the universe through particle physics and participate in a virtual tour from the ATLAS Experiment in Geneva Switzerland, led by CERN physicist Dr. Steven Goldfarb. They then participate in a hands-on Tipi making and Dreamcatcher workshop with Lakota Cultural Specialist, Steve Tamayo to learn about Lakota cosmology. Students create stories that explore their micro-macro connection to the universe and the stars, correlating physics concepts to the big bang, black holes and constellations. Finally they learn projection mapping with Agnes Chavez to animate their stories with light on to a 24′ Tipi, and share their work with the community through a public event.

We are living in what is now being called the ‘Golden Age of Cosmology’ and cutting edge science and technology is revealing expanded understandings about ourselves and our universe that converge with indigenous cosmology. Exploring the correlations of indigenous cosmology to modern science through art making is a powerful way to increase understanding of radically new science concepts while building appreciation for the significance of indigenous cosmology and worldview.

I am currently working with Steve Tamayo and Steven Goldfarb on the curriculum design. Follow this blog for updates and please contact us if you are a school interested in this workshop.



Augmented Reality Mural coming soon to Ziggy’s

As part of TISA’s new STEAM Lab, Amber McCabe’s 8th grade class will participate in an Augmented Reality (AR) Mural Work/Study Project providing real-world community focused learning of STEAM skills. AR is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. Information about the environment and its objects is overlaid on the real world. This exciting 8-week project kicks off today December 12.

Co-founders, Bowe Ellis and Steve Kennebeck are opening Ziggy’s, a new yoghurt shop in Taos (Next to Taos Java) and approached me to see if STEMarts Lab could coordinate students to paint a mural for the shop. STEMarts Lab brings artists into schools through interdisciplinary collaborations that integrate art, science, and technology through social practice. For this project, participating students will be collaborating with lead artists, Jason Rodriguez and Aya Trevino of ARTAOS to design the interior wall space of the new Yogurt store.


Students will create an Augmented Reality (AR) mural that makes the whole space interactive. By pointing your smartphone or iPad at the painted mural on the walls, animated images pop off the wall for a fun and surreal 3D experience. The main star of the mural will be Ziggy, the adorable pug of owner, Bowe Ellis. Yoghurt will never be the same!

Students will be involved in all aspects of the production, from visiting the space and meeting the “clients”, to developing the concept, to designing the technology that creates an augmented reality experience for visitors.  Through this project students understand the interdependence of art, science, technology in our society and personal lives.The AR Mural project aligns with Core Arts standards, 21st Century standards and the Next Generation Science Standards.

This project will provide invaluable real world STEAM skills;

  • Business skills by working with a client to design a site specific installation (Site Visit, measurement, space planning, client communications)
  • Design and critical thinking skills to explore new approaches to image making, including designing stencils and laser cut vinyl patterns.
  • Project planning such as identifying design constraints (budget, materials, copyright, technology)
  • Learning cutting edge technology skills to create augmented reality experiences. (Define still image (trigger) criteria vs AR imagery (overlay)
  • Collaboration with UNM Digital Media facilitators, Peter Walker and Enrico Trujillo, and their art students to access advanced technologies to realize their ideas.i.e. 3-D animation and green screen video making.
  • Building of scale model of site to consider floor, ceiling, counters, safe zones, etc.

These students will also have the opportunity to become AR Technology “teachers”  to the 5th through 7th graders in a second workshop, so that all the whole middle school becomes part of the project.

This TISA project is made possible through a partnership with ARTAOS, Ziggy’s Yogurt Shop founders; Bowe Ellis and Steve Kennebeck, and a Paseo Project collaboration with UNM Digital Media Arts.


Follow the blog to see updates on this exciting project.






Launch of STEAM Innovation Lab at Local Taos School


Jason Rodriguez making banners with TISA students

We are excited to announce that the launch of a STEAM Innovation Lab at the Taos Integrated School of the Arts in Taos, New Mexico is underway. STEMarts Lab founder, Agnes Chavez, is working with Richard Greywolf and Megan Avina Bowers to design a STEAM Lab that will launch TISA students and teachers into the 21st century.

The Lab will be based on the STEMarts Lab model developed in 2009 and which has been implemented through multiple platforms, from new media art festivals such as ISEA2012 Machine Wilderness and The Paseo, to national and international science events, such as the Los Alamos STEM Challenge and the ATLAS@CERN Projecting Particles project.

For the past three years TISA has participated in the STEMarts Lab youth program@The Paseo Youth program where students have gotten a taste of this unique STEAM approach. They experience cutting edge technologies and science through the lens of new media artists, and collaborate with the artist to create participatory art for Taos’ exciting new festival, The Paseo. In 2015, NY based artist, CHiKA, engaged students in a video mapping marathon that was part of the festival and this year students worked with The Illuminator, an art collective that works with light projections as a means of political expression, environmental transformation, and public discourse. We will integrate an ongoing series of Projecting Particles workshops in collaboration with ATLAS@CERN that will keep students abreast of the latest discoveries in particle physics, and through art, better understand how these discoveries expand our understanding of who we are and our place in the universe.

We have partnered with TWIRL to integrate their exciting STEAM activities, and are looking forward to collaborating with other emerging Maker spaces and activities to create a community-focused laboratory for exploration. The STEAM Innovation Lab at TISA will continue to offer these unique interdisciplinary collaborations but will also provide teachers with year long opportunities to learn about and integrate cutting edge technologies into their own curriculum topics.

Some unique features of the Lab include, A 21st Century Materials and Resource Library, a multi-functional space that allows for multiple intelligence exploration, and a VR biofeedback room that focuses on social emotional intelligence. The TISA STEAM Lab will have a strong emphasis on science concepts, creativity and innovation, personal reflection and growth, and social practice as the foundation to all technological explorations. For more information contact




TISA Kids Support Standing Rock Kids through Art

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Students from TISA’s 5-8th grade classrooms participated in the Water is Life: Standing Rock project this November. Through art and social engagement they  learned about the growing movement in Standing Rock North Dakota working to protect our water resources and sacred lands threatened by the  construction of the Dakota Pipeline.  Students received a special visit from Christopher Lujan from Taos Pueblo who has been on the Frontline and helping out at the Camp for the past months. They learned first hand what is happening there and reflected on the issues that are coming to the surface from this civil action. Chris helped them explore their own slogans around the topic of water, indigenous rights and 1st amendment rights. Students then worked with local artist, Jason Rodriguez of ARTAOS, to design and print vinyl banners  12 donated by Taos News, as well as 8 t-shirts. The project culminated when STEAM Coordinator, Agnes Chavez, hand delivered the banners and t-shirts to the Oceti Sakowin school, elders, and the International Indigenous Youth Council. Photos and videos from this exchange were shared with the students so they could see the joy and impact of their gesture.


The project is part of TISA’s new STEAM Lab which explores not only the cool technologies, but also the ethical considerations and impact of science and technology on our society and environment.  According to the Next Generation Science Standards, students must learn, “Living things need water, air, and resources from the land, and they live in places that have the things they need. Humans use natural resources for everything they do.   Energy and fuels humans use are derived from natural sources and their use affects the environment. Some resources are renewable over time, others are not. Human activities have altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging it, although changes to environments can have different impacts for different living things. Activities and technologies can be engineered to reduce people’s impacts on Earth.”

The Water is Life: Standing Rock project provided a real world understanding of this core concept through art and direct social engagement. Stay tuned for more interdisciplinary projects from the STEAM Lab@TISA.

Twirl’s Light Play in collaboration with TISA’s new STEAM Lab


We launched the new STEAM Lab at the Taos School of Integrated Arts with a series of Twirl workshops. Students from grades K-5 participated in Light Play, which allows them to play, explore and make discoveries with light. They learn how it bends, bounces and blends with the help of lenses and mirrors; along with color-combining and shadow play. They investigate what happens to light when it encounters various materials, allowing them to experience scientific concepts through light play. The result is an art project that brings to life the science of light through the creation of shadow puppets for a collaborative classroom mobile.

light-playSTEAM Lab @TISA aims to provide year round programming designed to support and engage TISA’s teachers and students in grades K–8 with culturally sensitive and age-appropriate workshops, activities and technology that combine Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Art as Social Practice. The methodology will be guided by the STEMarts Model which builds on eight years of successful STEM+art curriculum design. The leading innovation is the foundational principle that authentic and meaningful integration of science and art as social practice results in deeper learning, greater student engagement by students in both science and art, and the creative application of science and technology in their lives and in their communities. Activities are always ‘maker focusedʼ and revolve around project-based design challenges delivered by artists, scientists or interdisciplinary guests in collaboration with classroom teachers.

Building from this unique starting point, the instructional design model intentionally connects the STEMarts Learning Model’s four pillars of instructional design to key activities and tools in order to impact student learning and attitudes, while enhancing their self esteem and feeling of purpose in the world.










Serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA

MAY 2016

I am in my second year serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA,  whose mission is to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. We make a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. I am also part of a growing demographic  of  ‘older adults’ serving within the AmeriCorps program, known more commonly as a learning opportunity for youth.   Add to the mix that I am also an artist contributing a unique skill set that is not normally associated with AmeriCorps service and you might be asking, so how is that working out?

Why the Arts?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2018 New Mexico will need to fill 53,000 STEM-related jobs. To address this, STEM to STEAM is an initiative to add art and design to the agenda of STEM education and research in America. A recent rewrite of the nation’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) legislation will now integrate the arts into STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math). According to the latest research, for students to be prepared and job ready in the new economy, creativity and innovation are just as essential as reading and math.

How I got involved.

I have been a practicing artist for over 30 years, and like many mature artists out there, we have specific skills that are under utilized in todays’ society. In 2009  I started an R&D project called STEMarts to bring new media artists into the classroom to develop STEAM skills and explore new roles for the artist in our society. In 2015 I heard about Andrea Polli’s VISTA project, Help Build Capacity for STEAM Education in New Mexico, through The Social Media Workgroup (SMW) which investigates the social and ecological impacts of media technology through practice-based research. Based at the University of New Mexico, the group designs and creates projects related to media technology, environment and social change. As one of five VISTA’s selected for this project. my role as STEAM Innovator and Networker for Northern New Mexico, is to strengthen an existing network of partners and sustainable funding sources to support the education and employment of students,  along with emerging professionals, parents and other community members throughout the state in STEAM fields.

How has it worked out?

It is an exciting time because decision makers are waking up to the value of the arts, science and technology and there is much work to be done developing innovative STEAM educational programs and employment opportunities for students and educators. By pooling resources, reporting on outcomes, learning about ‘capacity building’, and laser focusing on a shared goal, I have been able to have more impact and reach than was possible on my own.

It has been an incredibly rewarding experience and I highly recommend to older adults and seasoned artists to explore the AmeriCorps job postings.  My advice is to find an organization that resonates with your passion and is doing similar projects. In this way the work becomes seamlessly aligned. I also would recommend to AmeriCorps administrators to seek out older adult artists as a valuable under utilized resource. Artists are innovative problem solvers, know how to make something out of nothing, and are always volunteering their time and donating work to help their community and make the world a better place. Who better to help carry out the AmeriCorps mission of ending poverty in America?

Below are some examples of projects have been developed as part of this collaboration to date:


Agnes Chavez shares 2015 Projecting Particles outcomes at return visit to ATLAS@CERN

MAY 2016
CERN. Geneva, Switzerland

A year after her 2015 two-week research stay through ATLAS Experiment at CERN, Chavez returns to share end of year video documentation from the Projecting Particles projects.  The gatherings took place at the CERN library and Ideasquare, a dedicated test facility at CERN that hosts detector R&D projects, facilitates MSc student programs and can host special innovation-related events. A special thanks to Dr. Steven Goldfarb and Claire Adam Bourdarios for facilitating a series of exchanges to get feedback from the physics community and dedicated time for future planning. We are excited to announce that the Projecting Particles@ATLAS project has been accepted as a poster session at the ICHEP Conference (38th International Conference on High Energy Physics). Stay tuned for new developments underway for the 2016 Projecting Particles- ATLAS@CERN partnership.

Highlights from the exchanges.

Agnes Chavez shares 2015 outcomes from Projecting Particles project.

An expanded partnership with ATLAS led to bringing the ATLAS Masterclass to Taos High School which deepened the physics learning. The five-day workshop ended with students sharing their experience as part of an Artist Talk at The Harwood Museum. 2015 workshops were sponsored by ATLAS@CERN, Quarknet, Harwood Museum, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Albert L. Pierce Foundation. Special thanks to AmeriCorps VISTA.

Also shared were the results from the Projecting Particles workshop at the Havana Biennial 2015, with physicist, Dr. Luis Flores Castillo leading the physics instruction at a high school in Havana.


Tagtool app developer, Markus Dorninger, led the art portion of the the two-day workshop resulting in a live performance by Cuban students projecting on to a building at Parque Trillo.