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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.


ATLAS at CERN + The Harwood Museum expand Physics and Art at Taos High School

ATLAS at CERN partners  with Agnes Chavez, Quarknet and The Harwood Museum to bring a unique physics + art opportunity to Taos High School students. This event is sponsored by ATLAS Experiment, The Harwood Museum and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Special thanks to Carla Chavez, Biology teacher at Taos High School and Megan Avina Bowers, teacher at Taos Integrated School of the Arts (TISA). On March 18 and 19, students  participated in the International Masterclass to delve into particle physics as a kick off to the 3-day Teen-Led Projecting Particles workshop.  The week long event culminated with students coordinating and documenting a physics-inspired projection. They then presented on their experience as part of an Artist Talk at The Harwood Museum, which showed  the physics-inspired installation, Origination Point, by Agnes Chavez, Marcel Schwittlick and Robert Schirmer. In addition, lead students visited TISA to do a presentation to younger students sharing what they learned about art and physics.

What is the International Masterclass?

From the CERN website, ‘Each year in spring, research institutes and universities around the world invite students and their teachers for a day-long program to experience life at the forefront of basic research. These International Masterclasses (link is external) give students the opportunity to be particle physicists for a day by analysing real data from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC). This year’s edition will attract more than 10,000 high-school students from 40 countries, celebrating the 10th edition of the initiative between 12 March and 12 April 2014.’  As part of this workshop, Taos was conferenced in with students from Medellin, Colombia, Santiago, Chile and Notre Dame, London to compare the results of their investigations.

The Visiting Guest Teachers

Michael Wadness, a high school physics teacher from Medford High School near Boston with a doctorate in science education, lead the exciting International Masterclass at Taos High School on March 18,19.

Sally Seidel is a professor of physics at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of New Mexico and presently works on the ATLAS experiment in high energy physics. Sally came from Albuquerque on March 19 to do a presentation and lead a discussion with students on particle physics concepts and ATLAS.

About the Sci-Art integration

After a two day immersion with experts in particle physics, students began the exploration of projection art as a medium of expression and communication. The three-day workshop March 22-24 was led by three teens that participated in the workshop in December 2015. They lead a group of new students to explore a projection art iPad tool called Tagtool. Together they will storyboard, design and document a live projection on to a building inspired by the physics concepts.

Learning by Teaching

During the workshop students presented a PowerPoint to share their experiences as part of an Artist Talk at The Harwood Museum  along with artist/facilitator, Agnes Chavez. Students visited Taos Integrated School of the Arts (TISA) and presented to over 70 students from different classrooms. They shared what they learned about particle physics and how it informed their art. These new additions to the Projecting Particles workshop deepened the students understanding of  the physics concepts and developed valuable leadership and communication skills.

Explora ABQ: Projecting Climate Change Workshop


The Harwood Museum-sponsored Projecting Particle workshop/performance by teens from Taos Academy and Taos high School

As pat of my Americorps VISTA service and partnership with Explora and 516 ARTS,event: Habitat, Exploring Climate Change through the Arts, I will present a hands-on workshop offering students the opportunity to use projection art and their imaginations to explore climate impacts on diverse ecosystems and allow that to inspire and inform their ideas. Using the iPad app, Tagtool, developed by Austrian artist Markus Dorninger, kids will have fun painting, animating and projecting with light. Participants are asked to bring their own tablets as their “art” tool. For ages 8 and up.

As part of our partnership with The Harwood Teen Engagement Program, STEMarts Lab Teen, Haley Rach, will be coming with me to Albuquerque to lead the workshop at Explora. The Harwood Teen Engagement program offers opportunities for mentorship, civic engagement, and leadership to youth age 13 – 18. Using the Museum as the basis of their Service Learning component, teens gain career-related skills.

This workshop is sponsored by Sube and STEMarts LAB.


If anyone is interested in signing up for this workshop there is still room (maximum 8 students). Please contact Tara.

    • Time: 2-5pm
    • Admission: $5
  • 1701 Mountain Rd. N.W., Albuquerque, NM 87104
  • Phone: 505-224-8323


‘Hour of Code’ at Taos Middle School a Huge Success

code map


Taos Middle School was one of 166,726,959 schools around the world that participated in the national week-long Hour of Code event, designed to get the whole world dedicating one hour to learning code using their fun and easy tutorials.  Launched in 2013,® is a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.

Thanks to Los Alamos National Laboratory who coordinated a task force of LANL volunteers to send out to schools across Northern New Mexico, we received Jacob Miner, Graduate student/scientist. Jacob lead three one-hour sessions, totaling over 75 students, through the fun and well-designed tutorials of coding Minecraft puzzles and design challenges.  Tracy Galligan sent two high school students  to assist. It was a huge success and the kids loved it. The lead teacher, Christine Garcia, who had never been exposed to coding before this, was already helping students through challenges by the end of the day. Principal Alfredo Cordova visited the classroom and caught the motivational videos that are part of the tutorial, with guest appearances by President Obama, and celebrities such as Jessica Alba.


The best part is that this well funded and well-designed website is free and available anytime for anyone to use. They even have more advanced programming tutorials for programs such as Javascript and Python. Some of the students were already moving into advanced courses within the hour!

Special thanks to Dr. Torrez, Jeff Everett and the whole TMS team that made this last minute demo possible. STEMarts LAB is planning to design more programming around this amazing resource so for anyone that missed out this time, stay tuned! Photos coming soon.

Taos High and Taos Academy Join to Project Particles at The Harwood Museum of Art

Particles team_THS_harwood


Congratulations to all the students that participated in the Projecting Particles STEMarts LAB sponsored by The Harwood Museum of Art Teen Engagement Program, Los Alamos National Laboratory and ATLAS at CERN.

The workshop kicked off with a live virtual tour of the ATLAS control room at CERN led by physicist, Dr. Steven Goldfarb, courtesy of CERN. Students learned about the latest discoveries in particle physics such as the Higgs-Boson particle and how these theories are transforming the way we perceive space and time, and expanding our definition of who we are and where we come from.

Tagtool visualization by student, Boaz Devenyi

They then saw many examples of new media artists working with interactive projections to see how art is beginning to explore these concepts through visualizations. Finally, they  learned to use Tagtool, an iPad app developed by Paseo artist, Markus Dorninger, to express these concepts themselves.

The four students from Taos Academy that led the workshop were stellar and taught me to so much. They created a fun and collaborative environment that engaged and empowered the new students from Taos High. They then worked together as a team to create and deliver a beautiful projection performance for the Lighting of Ledoux. All in four days time.

Special thanks to Juniper Manley and Jayne Schnell for partnering with STEMarts LAB to make this collaboration happen. Thanks as well to lead teachers Carla Chavez, Taos High School and Karin Moulton, Taos Academy, for making this 4-day (28 hour) interdisciplinary workshop occur (partly after school and partly during school hours) so that it can be accessible to students who might not have had access otherwise.

We are looking forward to our next teen-led Projecting Particles LAB at The Harwood in February so stay tuned!

STEMartist: Agnes Chavez

Participating students:

Taos Academy Teen-leads: Boaz Devenyi, Cade Harris, Justis Daniels-Bezout, Haley Rach

Taos High School students: Left to right: Cade Harris, Roberto Martinez, Haley Rach, Agnes Chavez, Brandon Trujillo, Aurelia Chavez, James Young, Justis Daniels-Bezout, Ricardo Trujillo. Missing from photo: Asher Vigil, Aryanna Zarazua and Boaz Devenyi.

CERN Virtual Tour at Taos High School


This morning at 7am students from Taos High School led by biology teacher Carla Chavez, and four teen-leads from Taos Academy participated in a live virtual tour of CERN in Geneva Switzerland. CERN is the home of the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator. This was the kick-off for the Projecting Particles workshop organized by STEMarts LAB@ThePASEO, and sponsored by Harwood Museum and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Taos High School and Taos Academy students collaborate on Sci-Art project.

Teen-leads; Justis Daniels-Bezout, Boaz Devenyi, Cade Justin and Haley Rach will lead a 3-day Sci-Art Lab that explores particle physics to express new ways of interpreting the world around us through projection . The Lab culminates on Saturday December 5th with a projection performance at the Harwood Museum for the Lighting of Ledoux.

Projecting Particles is a series of workshops and Sci-art events that began in 2013 through a partnership with physicist, Dr. Steve Goldfarb at ATLAS Experiment at CERN. Dr. Goldfarb leads the virtual tours and facilitated a two-week research stay for STEMarts Lab Founder and Americorp VISTA, Agnes Chavez. This collaboration has led to many exciting workshops and events over the years: National Hispanic Cultural Center/516 Arts (ABQ), Taos Academy (Taos), Explora (ABQ), The PASEO (Taos) and Havana Biennial (Cuba).

Lighting at Ledoux, Harwood Museum
December 5, 2015 5-7pm

Breaking News for STEAM and Arts Education

Origination Point. Interactive installation by Agnes Chavez in collaboration with Marcel Schwittlick and Robert Schirmer. Thanks to ATLAST@CERN.

Origination Point. Interactive installation by Agnes Chavez in collaboration with Marcel Schwittlick and Robert Schirmer. Thanks to ATLAST@CERN.

BREAKING NEWS: “In the midst of the biggest shakeup of federal education law in over a decade, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) successfully added an amendment today to the rewrite of the nation’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) legislation that will integrate the arts into STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math)…Read more

This is exciting news indeed. When STEMarts was formed in 2009, the idea of unifying the arts and STEM was only being explored on a university level by by Rhode Island School of Design and a few other innovators. Now STEAM initiatives are being supported by major science institutions such as The National Science Foundation with grant funding and conferences focusing on the marriage of art and science.

More good news. The Senate bill contains 11 arts-friendly provisions, and retains the arts as a core academic subject —a priority for Americans for the Arts and the arts education field. – See art as core subject to read about the announcement and see the highlights below. The implications for these changes in education are monumental. We are now moving steadily toward prioritizing creativity and recognizing the value of art as process and way of knowing in equal standing with the scientific method. I am very excited to be a part of this movement.

Here are the highlights of the Senate bill according to ARTSblog:

  1. The arts continue to be defined as a core academic subject! It is one thing to be defined, and something else entirely to include implementing requirements that can provide a clearer picture of what exactly it means to be a “core” subject. Here the bill:
  2. Provides that core academic subjects are included in instruction and enrichment activities associated with expanded learning time.

  3. In terms of funding, “core academic subject education activities” are also listed as eligible activities in the Local Competitive Grant program.

The Senate committee bill also would help strengthen the arts at the district and state education department levels. It does this in two key ways:

  1. The arts are specifically authorized under local educational agency activities, while also being described as “tools to promote constructive student engagement, problem solving, and conflict resolution.” This authorization is part of a new Safe and Healthy Students initiative and is a signal that the committee understands that teaching the arts brings a host of additional beneficial outcomes, in addition to achieving arts competency.
  2. Under state plans, the bill allows state educational agencies to describe how they will “encourage the offering of a variety of well-rounded education experiences to students.”

Read the full blog post here:


Art Meets Science at Cafe Scientifique

Art Meets Science at Cafe Scientifique

Agnes Chavez is an artist, educator and Co-Director of The PASEO. She is also an Americorp VISTA, whose mission is to ‘Help Build Capacity for STEAM Education in New Mexico.

Agnes is out spreading the word about the power of art and science for social change. Her interactive presentation takes youth through her personal journey as an artist inspired by science with a passion for humanitarianism. She shares the science that has informed her work, talks about the unique socio-economic landscape that students need to be prepared for to succeed in the world, and advocates for the creative hybridization of technology, an interdisciplinary approach to life and using art as a vehicle for change.

She will be doing this presentation as part of the Cafe Scientifique series in Los Alamos on November 3rd and in Taos on December 3rd. You can visit for more about her projects and work.

PASEO Pops-in on Taos Pueblo Halloween Carnival

Electrofunk Mixtape Projection

After coming down from the buzz and excitement of The PASEO which took place on September 25,26, we are ready to do some Pop-Ups to keep the momentum going!

Mark your calendars for THIS  SATURDAY October 24th from 10am-7pm at the Oo-oonah Art Center on Taos Pueblo for the Halloween Kids Carnival. Oo-oonah Art Center founder, Marie Reyna, is holding her annual fundraiser and PASEO is going to pop in to help out. The Oo-oonah art program was founded in 1984 and provides wonderful traditional arts programming to all children. The event will include fun Halloween carnival games with prizes, as well as mini workshops and demos for kids.

Agnes Chavez and Melanie Redmond will be demonstrating a video mapping software by collecting images from participants throughout the day which be transformed and projected on to the exterior building at dark. Liz Neely will be creating mini ghosts and bats with her 3D printer and talking about the applications of 3D printers for young and old alike. Meanwhile, kids can experience traditional workshops and demos for just $1. How about learning how to make fry bread?

So get on your costumes and bring out the whole family for some fun, while helping to support this wonderful program for the children in our community.

Here is the schedule:


Traditional workshops and demos


Poetry performance by Lyla Johnston


3D printing demo with Liz Neely

Video mapping demo with Agnes Chavez and Melanie Redmond

DJ sounds by Christalyn Concha


Student Reception. Come and share posole with us!


Closing video mapping projection on to exterior building of Oo-oonah Art Center