Noé Barnett

Taking action through street art, Albuquerque’s Noé Barnett joins protests with his new mural, OVER COME.

AIRED: September 05, 2020 | 0:26:51

Frederick Hammersley Foundation...

...and Viewers Like You














I kind of feel that...

There is a big portion of the country or the world

that doesn't really understand why people are

responding the way that they are.

Obviously like, everything that happened with George

Floyd I think that everyone is in agreement

that that was a terrible incident.

People are questioning and not really understanding

why the reaction has been so strong.

And so I decided to include like, imagery to

kind of illustrate the point that this is something

that has been brewing for that, that much time.

And this was not one singular event but...

Just another, another event in like a long history.

The straw that broke the camel's back if you will.

[Sounds of traffic]

I have multiple images from--- lot of different

time periods from marches in the 60's, to Jackie

Robinson, Harriet Tubman, she's probably the oldest,

oldest person on the wall.

Malcolm X, Martin Luther King.

I think every- everyone can agree that people like

Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Rosa

Parks, like all those people were important

figures in civil rights and just in the history of

this country in general.

And so, more or less when you include those types of

images people are going to respect what they did and

what they represent and it kind of, drop someone's

guard or like help them get into the conversation.

If you come on too strong and you're too abrasive.

People put their guards up.

People get defensive, naturally.

And so I think anytime you want to try to have any

sort of mature conversation or get

anywhere with anyone as far as like a point of

view or a mindset you have to do it, gentle in in a sense.

With imagery, with wording.

And so that that was kind of the goal.

I didn't want to come off too abrasive, too strong,

or too didactic with like the, the imagery.

My writings getting better.

Slowly but surely.

And so, yeah I think that's something that I

try to carry throughout my my work.

Just to be direct enough to draw you in and then

once you're like comfortable then you can

start asking those type of questions.

In my experience, the way to just grow as a person

and where that your mindset or the way you

view things is on like a person to person basis in

having conversations with one another.

Alright this is Ahmaud Arbery, who was running, I

think a lot of people have seen the video, he was

running in his neighborhood and got gunned down.

We got Colin Kaepernick, George Floyd obviously

right here, Breonna Taylor.

And throughout there is just like,

wording different, different visuals.

This is that iconic image from the civil rights walk

that the dog was attacking.


And then there's, this wording it says "OVER COME."

And it's visual, visible when you take a flash

photo at night.

And the words come out, so you're literally like

shining light on the issue.

From afar, when you're driving by west on

Central, its, you see like this big fist.

And the goal with this piece in general

is to draw you in.

So when you get close to it you can see more of the

details, more of the faces, more of the conversation.

Which is kind of how life is, you know?

From afar, from a distance most people that look

different from you, it's almost like you have

nothing in common with them and their like almost

not human in a sense and the more like you're in

proximity with people, the more you kinda relate to

what they're going through and their experience and so.

The goal for this was to again draw people in and

get them to see a different perspective and

umm, have conversation.

And then, going back to full circle to be a

catalyst for for, an actual change.


Printmaking is this energy.

It's anticipation.

I can't wait to pull the print off the press.

I'm just a conduit.

You know whatever happens in the studio I'm allowing

the work to work through me .

I've been creating art since I was like five, six years old.

I don't ever remember not creating.

I was in undergraduate school, and I saw

printmaking I really didn't know what it was.

It was just this magical experience is really the

best way that I can describe it.

So I decided you know one day I'm actually gonna do that.

I work in a lot of different processes.

I work with drawing, I work with painting, I work

with printmaking - there is sewing elements that's

in my work as well.

And so I bring all of these different energies

together in order to create a piece of artwork.

Layering is very important in my work.

The layering references time, it references history

and all of these different things just laid on together.

In my work I also use a lot of symbols and a

symbol for me is a circle.

You'll see that shape throughout my work.

It's a symbol of the moon and the moon and a lot of

different cultures particularly in African

culture represents the female.

The women in my work are wearing hoop earrings and

majority of the work.

So that's another way of bringing in that symbol.

My work started off really being about reconstructing

identity of African-American women.

When you look at media of course you have the

stereotypes of you know the angry black woman or

you know the club Jezebel type woman.

You know media has set the tone for our identity of

who we are or who were supposed to be.

I feel like it's my responsibility to offer a

different narrative of who we could be, of where we

came from and the dynamic women that we are.

I was really interested in and having the viewer be

able to walk into a piece of work.

How do I translate my 2D work into 3D work.

All of the women I knew.

I've interacted with them five minutes - some of

them I've known all my life.

I decided to make an installation that really

honored who these women are.

So there are 300plates in the series.

They're drawn directly on the plates.

I used litho crayons to draw with, so I wanted to

stay within the material.

The plates vary because they are actually plates

that were given to me, donate it to me or you

know they were found everything had to have a

history and these women had so much personality

and so much life I didn't want to just walk into a

store and buy a box of plates.

They are lawyers, they're mothers, they're teachers,

they're activists, they're artists.

There's so many amazing women in the world I

couldn't draw them all but I wanted all of them to be

a part of this installation.

So for me, the table allowed me to be able to

bring the viewer in so that they can sit down and

enjoy the work and talk and just have conversation.

You know, who are these women?

What are they about?

What contributions are they making to society?

Those are the conversations that need to be had.

My love for what I do is what drives me.

I love art and I think I'll be exploring

different mediums I plan on bringing other mediums

into my work.

I don't know how or when but I always believe and

I'm always open to it happening.

I refuse to believe that I can't do something.

I think that allows me room to grow.


We had very humble beginnings, which we still do.

Me, Johnny and Michael King we met in Johnny's

600 square foot Capital Hill apartment and decided

that there was something lacking with our community.

We just felt like there was this hole within the

culture here in Denver.

- We felt people still cared to have a palpable

magazine to look at, put on your coffee table, to

enjoy it as something tactile.

We wanted to make a living being creative but also do

something that contributes to the world and helps

make culture better and more interesting.

- Why not kind of like, not reinvent the wheel but

get a little more creative and see what you can do

just outside of a traditional format.

So we spear headed it from there and launched the first

magazine in January 2014 with $2,000 and one month of content.

Our sale is just

birdy. magazine

If we could have like holographs coming out of birdy...

we totally would do it, you know.

We love 70s and 80s old school vibe.

Digital art but mixed in with that analog feel.

We're you know, influenced by film and punk and music.

A lot of people would classify like what we

print as kind of a low brow art style but we love

contemporary art, abstract, poetry, comedy

and irreverence.

One of our baseline fundamental pillars of birdy.

Is artist resistance.

You know, even if you're not able to go out there

and march or you don't have money to give, making

art in and of itself is the ultimate form of

resistance in our opinion.

- Non violent.

The artists are really brave people.

- We really do think that we need to respect art and

the disenfranchised, the misfits of our community

the under represented that might not necessarily get

into another publication.

We print what we want.

- When we started we had no submissions and now

it's just non stop.It's not just art.

It's, it's writers, it's comedians,

it's film makers, you know bands.

You know, we're, we're able to represent a, a

place for people that, um, you know don't usually

have a place to shine.

- Just, you know, a platform of diversity, inclusivity.

We're quite multi generational,

multi-background and that's really important.

Obviously, we do have some, you know, language

in our magazine but it's an all ages publication.

There's nothing more exciting to me to print a

little six year olds cartoon because it's

beautiful, it's art.

- Hopefully anybody could pick it up, appreciate it.

We fought to have good quality product.

So the cost of it, yes, pretty penny to make it.

- Our model for advertising is quite different.

We actually don't call them advertisers.

They're friends and benefactors but yeah, the

large majority of our funding comes from those advertisers.

We design about 90% of our ads.

So we're creating your own custom piece of

art every single month.

- We are artists ourselves so we want to approach it

from a place where it's more content driven than

ad driven, like we don't sell our back cover.

That's a piece of art.

Our centerfold is art.

If we don't do it the way that is soulful and

respects the art then we're not interested.

- When you start a company, we're, you know,

we probably make two cents an hour when really it's

all said and done.

We're sleeping a little bit more now.

And you know we have food and toilet paper and all

that stuff but like it really is what we're doing

for the community is very quite philanthropic as well.

- Art is worth a lot.

You know like people don't value it like we

feel that they should.

And when we began, you know, the whole print is

dead mentality was out there.

-And that was really scary and difficult.

And we got a lot of lash back at first, you know,

from different people, "Hey you're never gonna

"be able to you know make this a thing" but it's

just perpetually growing.

- Revenge of the magazine.


Cristina Gonzales: Everything is connected

and that's what makes string and especially some

of these other materials so special is that it's

part of this life cycle.

It's part of the earth.

It's part of these things that are native to this

area just like we are

Carrie Garcia: Each basket tells a story.

Some stories have purpose, some stories have meanings

for each individual person.

You might be going through a hard time and so you

would just make a basket to help you out of that dark space.

Carrie Garcia: I think it's about bringing people

together and being able to share the traditions that

have been passed on from generation to generation

from our ancestors.

Gilbert Calac: I've been doing tule now for I'll say 15 years

and what I like from it is that of talking to the kids

about we have a plant that has given its life to us

and we need to treat that life with care and respect it.

Gilbert Calac: it's part of our culture.

our kids sometimes will get caught up with the

games that they can play on their phones or the TVs.

Gilbert Calac: I don't think we're losing it.

I think we're just not taking the time to understand

it and gather it and that's what we need to do.

Carrie Garcia: I think today a lot of youth are having a hard

time figuring out who they are, what it means to be

Indian or anything like that.

Cristina Gonzales: Growing up, we didn't have the luxury

of knowing a lot of things traditionally.

A lot of them we've learned later.....And so

the connection was kind of, I think it was

disconnected just slightly and it's nice to know that

we're making it again and that hopefully nobody

forgets and we don't have any type of other thing

that interrupts that knowledge again.

Carrie Garcia: basketry tells a story of

how our people have survived.

It's the one thing that remains constant in our culture.

Cristina Gonzales: because for us everything is connected.

especially speaking just as a Native person in

general, everybody always separates things but

everything is connected.

The baskets and the ceremonies and the string and

the food and the land and the stories and the animals.

Gilbert Calac: Attention everybody we had a young lady

last year, she did a tule matt she came back and she did a

biger one her name's Sally.


Carrie Garcia: Look at this beautiful piece of

artwork that you made.

That's special because not everybody can do that."

And so we see value in every single thing that's done.

You have little kids right now at our gathering and

they're making little tule ducks or tule mats.

And for us, those are like the most beautiful things

ever because that's what this is all about, is

passing on that tradition.

Cristina Gonzales: everybody that makes

something is part of this big collective of people that

are creative and that can make something out of nothing.

And seeking those people out that know how

to do it and sharing their knowledge.

And that's the wonderful thing about this, is

people teaching other people.

Carrie Garcia: So I think that's what we were trying to do.

We were trying to preserve that knowledge and promote

it in differet ways.

It's like the essence of our

community and so it's part of us.


Through technology, we are more connected globally

than we have ever been, sometimes atthe expense of

people right next to us.

However, it seems artistic expression, music,

paintings, sculptures, are appreciated by people

across the world and become a means for commonality.

One man chose to tell stories of connection and

create human interaction.

His name is Caleb Alvarado, a first

generation Mexican-American who grew

up with Spanish as his only language, shares with

us how photography became his interpreter.

- My dad used to always take photographs of us.

And we grew up in a pretty poor family, so we'd get a

lot of stuff at garage sales.

Most people get rid of film cameras 'cause they

don't want them, right?

My dad bought me one one day and he was like,

"Figure it out." I couldn't afford the film

so a lot of times I would just look through the

viewfinder as a kid and just act like I'm taking photos.

In my head I'd be like, I took that photo, I took that photo.

So I started to learn to see things.

- [Sebastian] After moving to Denver from Phoenix,

Arizona, Caleb was immediately drawn to the

diverse patrons of Whittier Cafe, a

community-driven African espresso bar nestled in

the historically diverse part of our city.

- Of all the places I'd been in Denver, it is a

true place of social exchange.

And when you walk in there you see all walks of life, right?

And I would just go in there, I'd be fascinated

with just the people that would go in there, so

that's when I approached Millete and I asked her, I

was like, hey, would you let me do a portrait

series outside of your building?

Outside the little patio and by the mural that's

there, setup two lights, brought a camera, and then

just people walking down the sidewalk, people

inside of the coffee shop.

I would say, hey, I've seen you come here before.

I would love to shoot a portrait of you.

- Caleb is really special because he's doing

something that is lacking in our culture right now,

I feel like.

You know, we have Facebook and all these different

forms of social media that make you feel like you

know people, but you really know no one, you

know, there's a lack of interaction, there's a

lack of depth to the relationships.

So what Caleb did was take these portraits of folks

where you can't help but look in their eyes and

wonder, what's his story, or what's her story?

And it sparked people to have conversations about

their neighbors or the regulars who see each

other all the time and maybe don't have conversations.

So we need the connection, I think people are

yearning for connection.

So it was a very deep, deep show.

-As a society, what we could do to better our

interactions is honestly just listen to each other,

like be vulnerable to other people, be self-aware

of other people, be mindful of other people.

-Photography is powerful like that, and especially

when you're someone like Caleb who can draw out

that story in an image.

I don't think that's an easy thing to do and it's

causing us to really dig deep.

- [Sebastian] His favorite camera to use for his

portraits is the 1922 Korona Gundlach, a

4x5wooden camera.

It allows him the ability to slowdown his process

and truly focus on the story being told through the lens.

- I like photographs the most when a person kind of

forgets everything around them and it's just about

them, you know what I mean?

So I wanna tell your story in that photograph.

- [Sebastian] Caleb's portraits force you to

look deep into the eyes of his subjects and listen to

the story within the photographs themselves.

- [Caleb] When I've been open to learning from

other people, that has helped me grow exponentially.

- [Sebastian] For Caleb Alvarado, photography was

his medium for cultural connection, but if you ask him,

Caleb will tell you it's more than just taking pictures.

-Photography can be used as a way to communicate

and connect with others.

I personally don't consider myself to be photographer.

I see my camera as just a tool to tell stories.

So I consider myself a lot more of a storyteller

rather than a photographer.

-[Sebastian] We all have a story to tell, and if

we're able to listen to each other, learn from one

another, and love our neighbors, those lines of

separation begin to go out of focus.

For "Arts District," I'm Sebastian Powell.


New Mexico PBS dot org and look for COLORES under

What We Do and Local Productions.



Funding for COLORES was provided in part by:

Frederick Hammersley Foundation

...and Viewers Like You


  • ios
  • apple_tv
  • android
  • roku
  • firetv