These chaotic times of a global pandemic get you to reflect on your time and your place; what is working in your life and what isn't. I want to thank the Santa Fe Reporter for all the times they have amplified the work of myself and of Alas de Agua Art Collective.

The bulk of articles and shout-outs that have showcased the work I've been doing as a solo artist, and the work we've done in collective, have come from the SFR.

As a Chicano, BIPOC artist I've found the town of Santa Fe to be tricky in creating space for art that tells alternative histories, herstories, theirstories. One would think in the mythology of the tri-cultural state that a Chicano would be able to find plenty of room to showcase Chicano art, but I, along with other artists, have found difficulty in being seen. In the process of not finding spaces that were addressing mine and other artists' needs—and with the help of the Kindle Project—we have, over the last three years, created murals, open mics, solo shows and group shows that addressed layered histories, herstories and theirstories. The projects here in town have been going on for about 10 years for me, and SFR has consistently been there along for the ride as we developed Alas De Agua Art Collective, allowing me the opportunity to speak my personal truth and the truth that is derived from our collective artwork, poetry, performance and creativity.

Over the last couple of years, we have had shows that have addressed gentrification, race, class, gender, historical traumas, inequities, healing and liberation.

More often that not, I have found myself in the in-between. Seen as a brown poster child, or not seen at all. What happens in this reality is that you are dehumanized at both extremes; in both realities you are still just silenced, and many times not afforded opportunities because the assumption is that you have them.

The further details of which I can spare you, but I know that if I wanted to elaborate, SFR would be there to give me that opportunity. (This is the power and importance of smaller papers that aren't tied to big institutions.) Instead, I've chosen to take the opportunities that this journal has given us to celebrate our creation, to push forward and keep on keeping on.

Any artist creating in the public eye wants to be seen, and I know I and the Alas De Agua Art Collective are not alone in saying that SFR has time and time again helped the unseen be seen, the silenced voiced. No, its writers are not perfect. they don't catch all the stories, all the nuances—they would be the first ones to tell you so—but we need more small, diverse media speaking the layers of truth and histories, histories and theirstories.

We all need a hype man, hype woman, hype person. Someone who is there to echo your truth. We need diversity in the narratives to get to the layers of truth. Small and big towns need to continue to support local papers, because they are a true beacon of the plebe. I hope the future holds SFR and more local papers highlighting the true plethora of culture that really exists in Tewa Land and across Turtle Island.

Israel Francisco Haros Lopez, artist, co-founder Alas de Agua Art Collective

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This letter from Israel Francisco Haros Lopez is part of a series we are publishing about Friends of the Reporter, a new model for supporting our journalism mission. Visit sfreporter.com/friends, to make a one-time or recurring donation. You'll get perks like discounts on on our merch and a monthly giveaway.

In September, one lucky Friend will win a Kala Dolphin Soprano Ukulele donated by The Candyman Strings and Things. 

(Send a check or visit us at 132 E Marcy St., Santa Fe , NM 87501)