Do bridges divide us in the process of connection?

By what means does modernity and capitalism survive?

Big- I / I-25 / Pan American Freeway
Las Cruses, NM – Buffalo, Wyoming

All freeways are highways, but not every highway is a freeway.

Pan-Americanism- 1888 movement toward commercial, social, economic, military, and political cooperation among the nations of North, Central, and South America.

The concept of building a highway emerged at the 5th International Conference of the American States or Pan-American Conference.

> James Blaine, Secretary of State: proposed close ties between US + Latin America and would open markets to US trade.

> Western Hemisphere- create Union of the Americas where the US “would hold the upper hand and would be able to guide the agenda,” and carry heavyweight in major decision-making.

> Another reason for the union was so that the US could financially benefit from other countries.

theory > political theory > laws > power

"No collectivity of people in US American society is a enigmatic or misunderstood as Indigeous peoples."

“From the very first encounters with them five centuries ago. Europeans were confounded by these peoples who looked so different and lived lives that seemed not just diametrically opposed to theirs but even blasphemous. Europeans brought with them their fears and prejudices accompanied by a sense of entitlement to the land that had been home to the Indigenous peoples for untold thousands of years. They were occasionally respected by the newcomers, some of whom voluntarily left their own communities in the early days of settlement to live among the Indians. They learned to speak the Natives’ languages, intermarried, and had children with them, sometimes for love or companionship, sometimes just to build alliances and gain access to Native territories and to convert them to Christianity. But by and large the history of relations between Indigenous and settler is fraught with conflict, defined by a struggle for land, which is inevitably a struggle for power and control. Five hundred years later, Native peoples are still fighting to protect their lands and their rights to exist as distinct political communities and individuals.

Most US citizens’ knowledge about Indians is inaccurate, distorted, or limited to elementary-school textbooks, cheesy old spaghetti westerns, or more contemporary films like Dances with Wolves or The Last of the Mohicans. Few can name more than a handful of Native nations out of the over five hundred that still exist or can tell you who Leonard Peltier is. Mention Indian gaming and they will have strong opinions about it one way or another. Some might even have an Indian casino in their community, but they will probably be curiously incurious if you ask them how Indian gaming came to be or about the history of the nation that owns the casino. In many parts of the country it’s not uncommon for non-Native people to have ever met a Native person or to assume that there are no Indians who live among them. On the other hand, in places where there is a concentration of Natives, like in reservation border towns, what non-Native people think they know about Indians is typically limited to racist tropes about drunk or lazy Indians. They are seen as people who are maladjusted to the modern world and cannot free themselves from their tragic past.

On a whole, it can be said that the average US citizen’s knowledge about American Indians is confined to a collection of well-worn myths and half-truths that have Native people either not existing at all or existing in a way that fails to live up to their expectations about who “real” Indians are. If Indians do exist, they are seen as mere shadows of their former selves, making counterfeit identity claims or performing fraudulent acts of Indianness that are no longer authentic or even relevant. Non-Natives thus position themselves, either wittingly or unwittingly, as being the true experts about Indians and their histories- and it happens at all levels of society, from the uneducated all the way up to those with advanced college degrees, and even in the halls of Congress. The result is the perpetual erasure of Indians from the US political and cultural landscape. In short, for five centuries Indians have been disappearing in the collective imagination. They are disappearing in plain sight.

All the Real Indians Died Off,
By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker




Kochia– an aggressive colonizing, migrant species; “an undesirable weed”. Prodigious in its tumbleweed method of seed dispersal; indicator plant of poor soil conditions; drought tolerant; resistant to herbicides; “ornamental”- and brought into the US for this reason around 1900.


….   “A colonial mode of relationship blocks consciousness.”    .…


-Manu Karuka, (p. 25) in Empire’s Tracks

Invasiveness is deeply embedded into my experience of life as I am really just a visitor on the lands that I once believed I belonged to. I am realizing that I don’t feel like I belong to any place and long to know the physical earth that feels like I am of it. I’m paying attention to the ways that we invaders take root and displace thriving native communities, violently forcing intelligent systems out of balance. This imbalance ripples outwards.

 How to reconcile this?

I first took note of this plant in the Bosque near the Hispanic Cultural Center. It stood out to me because of its assertive pink color which I was told was in reaction to the recent frost. After that initial sighting and gathering, I continue to encounter it everywhere and in very large quantities.

I revisited Valle de Oro after discovering that kochia had essentially lined the entire path on our walk to the Rio Grande and had completely overtaken the fields. It appeared on the roadside on 2nd Street in Mountain View, framing the AT&SF superfund site.

Kochia dyed handmade paper and deconstructed canvas thread


Familiar spaces: home spaces, my movement practice, the social space held between here and someone I love—that space. When I arrive here, sometimes I expect something to happen, or I expect to feel something, know, or learn something. I’ve been thinking so much about familiarity and unfamiliarity.

Arriving in, passing through a space unknown, there is a recognition of chasing an unfamiliarity and awe.

When a space becomes familiar, there is a shift. Expectations are formed and resurface. In some ways, the magic is lost.

Standing at the railyards reminds me so much of Chicago. The industrial corridor flanked by the river and Cortland Ave. bridge has warehouses with sky-high hundred year old glass window panes. When I left that city, I couldn’t wait to get out. After eleven years, the magic it once held for me was lost. I have wanted to connect more to Albuquerque and understand where I am. Not just spatially, geographically, but culturally, artistically, spiritually. Spending all this time with our LAAW cohort has begun to fill some of these gaps, but I know it will take much more time.

I have had a difficult time connecting to my new home enough to understand where my artistic work fits and how it will evolve due to our current social and economic circumstances (in the world, and in the dance field which still feels like my primary place). I’ve turned to my practice as a familiar space, but sometimes expectations interfere; comparisons to previous observations here, and former versions of self. There are former bodies, experiences, and understandings. My distance from my own work, and the stress of trying to maintain a home studio practice in the same space I live, work, sleep, and cook in has been an enormous challenge. Mostly, I am immensely emotionally exhausted.

I am sitting near the river at Valle de Oro and I found this metal folding chair in the tall grass. Everything is dry and crispy and the light is warm and golden. The dappled sun shadows are dancing through the grass and the breeze is quite strong. This is another familiar unfamiliar space. This feels like home—not Chicago home, but where my parents live in southern WI.

I have been missing water for many months. We spent the morning with Richard Moore and this is the first day in nearly seven months that I’ve felt truly inspired. 

What are the possibilities for understanding and relating when there is constant change, evolving unfamiliarity, or even disintegration? 

Can we all just slow down for a moment, or a few?

Can we move about the world “successfully” with softness? ​Can slowing down be a radical act?​Now,​ ​every aspect of our current social and environmental unrest demands urgency. How / where / what is the balance?

Shelby Roberts

Mountainview and Valle de Oro
Getting out here by car and then getting to the preserve on foot took enough time that it was less peopled than it could have been, which was something I appreciated. I immediately high-stepped out to the river and got into it, walked out to some muddy banks with lots of marks of bird life. I made a point to notice how the place was where I exited land and entered water so I could make my way back easier. There were pieces of concrete and rebar with detritus, they all kind of looked the same but I noted how the nearest cluster of trash looked and identified some nearby plants and really looked so that I could remember their constellation and find it again when I was done walking in the river. I remember especially the Bidens frondosa which surprised me with lots of barbed cypselae stuck into my shorts and shirt and hair. This was the last plant I passed through before entering the river.

This part of the Bosque seemed low and closed in by plant life. I was in a curve in the river so I couldn’t see far enough in any direction to see any other people and so I felt very alone and like I had a lot of protection and privacy. I saw Sandhill Cranes and Canada Geese. The Sandhill Cranes look very silvery blue.

I lost track of time and got lost in slowly eating a dry and pleasureless blood orange while exploring more. I showed up late to meet with the group and felt embarrassed.

I rode my bike from the Hispanic Cultural Center this morning to Valle de Oro, I was near but not in the preserve. I think that I need to go back again to understand better where I was. It seemed like the Valle de Oro bike path I was on was very near to where we walked on October 11th.

Today I could barely see what was around me, I have been too wrapped up in my thoughts. I stopped frequently to look HARD at the places and tried to be present in these places. I got repeatedly lost and reoriented myself, this helped keep me present. I was lost and then recognized the gas station where we met on the morning of the 11th. I recognized straw bales painted like Jack-o-lanterns that I noticed on our caravan with Richard Moore. I rode my bike down the path Britney and I took, and today men were patching potholes in this path.

All of the industry and the rail line in proximity to new bike paths and new development, such as the Paseo Del Rio, reminds me of Boyle Heights in Los Angeles. I am curious why this place has been chosen for development.

When I got to the diversion channel I cried. I did not expect that this would make me cry but it was so steep and violent I cried. It was so white and smooth and I can only imagine water shooting through it too quickly.

I map over Albuquerque with my dream map of places, a map which grows every year but always seems to be basically the same.

The Rio Grande is the St. John’s River, is the Eel River, is the Mad River, is the Colorado River, is the Kaweah River, is the Kern River, is Cherry Falls, is Slick Rock, is Livingston, is the track in high school, is the freeway I swim with all the other swimmers too fast, too fast to go where I want to go and I always have to get off miles past and turn around or wait, soggy and impatient. The Rio Grande is the mined river full of sedimentary pollution, I feel slimy rocks in the current slapping into me like fish. The Rio Grande is the airport, is the airplane, is LAX, is my father driving too fast. The Rio Grande is utterly new to me.

I feel like this is a very familiar place. I visit the Rio Grande in my dreams every few nights, I visit the Rio Grande during the day once or twice a week. I am curious about this place and feel very happy to be getting to know the river, slowly. It feels like meeting the different people in the hilly dream neighborhood, they welcome me inside their colorful homes, and I feel like I do not belong in their homes but they welcome me in anyway and show me everything, like when I went caroling as a child. Like this place was somebody’s grandmother, I feel accepted and loved without deserving any of it. I feel embarrassed.

The river is slower than what I think and I am changed in the presence of this place.

WHEELS Museum/The Big I
I have visited many museums like this before, I am a fan of historical museums.

The strangeness of the space itself and the strangeness of going to a place just to look at things and pictures for a long time.

We Have Everything Everyone Likes (Loves?) that Spins!

In a building full of unmoving, static objects meant to be in motion.

How do we decide what is worthy of preservation?

What do we deem worthy of being saved?

What sparks nostalgia?

What about haptic labor makes us yearn to travel back in time?

The Big I – watching and listening from the Realtor’s Association parking lot was a new way to experience this place. I usually experience the Big I when I am in the Big I, and as a newcomer I am often confused about where I am or need to be in the I. Looking at the structure from the outside makes it clear how one could be lost.

When I moved here someone asked me “HAVE YOU SEEN THE BIG EYE YET?” which frankly terrified me.

A band of turquoise runs along the lengths of these snaking forms, tying a knot of approaching and receding bands of wind. The structure reminds me of the diversion channels.

Which of these big rigs carry nuclear missiles, which are equipped with immobilizing foam in the event they are hijacked by terrorists?

Imagine a future without vehicles and ask what purpose these structures might serve. Will highway infrastructure be preserved and historicized? Will we outlive vehicles? Will collective living structures be built into the sides and underneaths, will the roadways be kept up for bicycles and other things we love that spin?

Tiguex Park/Old Town/Sawmill District
This day was spending mostly talking and eating in the park with my classmates. I have not felt this connected to others for many months now.

When I imagined what my graduate experience would be like, I anticipated that there would be opportunities to build relationships with others that went beyond emails and studio visits. This pandemic reality has boiled down much of the academic experience to business only, and the pleasure of encountering humans as humans has been lost. This has been a dry and pleasureless time (like a shitty blood orange), which made simply eating lunch and chatting feel intoxicating by comparison.

The Mill Pond Refuge – here is a park in formation which has been abandoned. Here is a place for humans but also for plants and birds and groundwater recharge, but the place is paused. Trees and plants are dead, having apparently been planted not long ago. Infrastructure seems abandoned; trash receptacles are overflowing.

Who is responsible for tending to this place?

When do people feel responsible for lands near where they live?

When do people form connections to places and feel compelled to care for them?

What makes people feel as though they can interact with a place?

What prevents connection to a place?

What will this place be like in 30 years?


Field Lab 2

Active listening requires attention to the time and place, the sounds you hear and the ones you don’t, and the way your body displaces sound when you turn your head or take a step forwards, backwards or to the side. At any specific time or any specific place, you will never hear the same combination of sounds twice. Soundscapes are forever changing.

Big I, 10/9/20, 10:37am-10:39am
Big I, 10/9/20, 10:41am-10:43am
The Bosque, 10/9/20, 2:26pm-2:29pm


Our field study occurred on lands of the Pueblo people—the true stewards of this place. I was/am a guest.


These things aren’t static.


Energy flows through systems (and stories), setting them in motion.


The differential between pause and movement is energy. (pause → energy → movement)

So how can I pause what I cannot pause, to ask where it is going?

Can I redirect energy towards a pause? (pause ← energy ← movement)

slipstream / a current of air behind a moving object

Daniel Hojnacki

A continuation of building transportation, looking back while looking forward, what has changed? What has stayed the same? (Laying tracks for a Railroad, from the WHEELS Museum & The BIG-I)
A playful gesture of measuring a moment of space I contained & filled at the Bosque briefly

Jana Greiner

Stitched response

by Jana Greiner

The Big Eye

This nest of what was once a magenta wig is now a beautiful place holder. It holds memories of a life lived, maybe not so long ago, when these strands were connected to others like them working together to create a head cover that could transform the person wearing it.


Wind blown, styled by nature. I am captivated by the shapes formed by the ground cover. They mirror the sweeps of feathered hair from the seventies.
Trash or treasure, this old theme. I would not have stopped to take this magnificent photo of the light reflecting off the water if this piece of trash had not caught my eye first.
Graffiti frames the water channel, giving it a sense of humanity, of a place lived in and inhabited. It may look rural but it has urban written all over it.

Wildlife Refuge

The muddy wondering river channel looks unmarried by human development from this angle but right below the lens are jetty jacks imbedded in the bank to obstruct the river’s movement.
I found this drawing of jetty jacks in a World War 2 tactical manual. I now understand why I get a creepy feeling when I see them in the water or in the woods. They are a product of war and used to keep people out or for holding people back.