With the wide range of ideas and projects going on in the City Different, it can be quite a task to keep track of it all. Astutely noticing our crazy amount of inspirational fodder, the Santa Fe Art Institute gathers a small fraction of these people every quarter and asks them to speak about their work. But instead of an extended lecture series, the evening puts a variety of creative professionals on stage one right after another, with a total of 20 presentations from some of Santa Fe’s most innovative thinkers, each of whom have 140 seconds to explain their project.
“The event came about as a desire to see how SFAI could connect their artists-in-residence with some of the creative genius in Santa Fe,” says SFAI executive director Sanjit Sethi. “Our artists come from so many different places, and they do not work in a vacuum. We try to get a really diverse group of creative practices together, so they can actively meet other people doing interesting things.” And there is certainly some thought-provoking variety; art and design, public health, dance, teaching, architecture and environmental innovation are all represented.
Leigh Yardley, one of SFAI’s artists-in-residence, is excited to expand out into the community.
“I’m looking forward to meeting all these people,” she tells SFR, “It’s always a great opportunity for any artist to talk to the public about their work. I always feel like making art is one side of a conversation, and it’s best when there’s a way to make it more two-sided like this.”
During the intermission, audience members can go into the artists’ studios, see their work and share their thoughts. It’s a networking event meant to “broaden both our social and creative endeavors,” Sethi explains.
David Breecker, the founder and president of Santa Fe Innovation Park, says “I wanted to participate largely to hear from other people. If I have a goal, it’s to catalyze a collaboration between other groups, not just my own.”
Breecker plans to speak about his micro-grid project, which assesses the resources of a community to make it more energy independent.
“What this event is really about is addressing how Santa Fe becomes a globally recognized center for creative problem-solving and innovation,” he says.
Santa Fe acting as a base for global action is a theme for several speakers, including Adam McKinney, dancer, co-founder of DNA Works and chair of the dance department at the New Mexico School for the Arts.
“I’m very interested in using art as a catalyst for healing,” McKinney says. “We’ve done work on that here in Santa Fe, in Canada, Ghana, South Africa, Israel, Indonesia…all over the world. Meeting these amazing artists in Santa Fe has the potential to connect their work to ours.”
Amy Lin, a freelance design and builder and environmental activist, sees these kinds of connections as essential to the type of work she does.
“I will be proposing a solution to Santa Fe’s ever growing drought problem…which has to integrate many disciplines, from architects and artists to lawmakers and scientists,” she says.
The evening’s brief intervals means that these many types of people can inspire each other and spark new connections without getting too bogged down in a lot of detail.
“You know, people ask about the length” says Sethi, “but even with a 10 to 20 minute talk, you can’t get into a full idea, so why not just do a snippet that’s intensive and to the point?”
“When people ask me,” he continues, “‘What could you possibly say in 140 seconds?’, I think well, that’s about how long the Gettysburg Address was—so a lot.”