Artist envisions LANDBACK murals in all four directions in Albuquerque

City-funded project aims to pay young people to connect with Indigenous causes

By: - January 7, 2022 3:10 pm

Joeseph Arnoux stands in front of the LANDBACK mural project he directed with local high schoolers last year at Wilson Middle School. (Photo courtesy John Acosta/Working Classrooms)

High school Indigenous skateboarders that like painting walls, your opportunity is now. 

Several walls along grind ledges and the outside of the bowl full pipe at Alamosa Skate Park need some art, and most importantly, young artists to work on the project and share cultural experiences.

Apply to work on the LANDBACK Alamosa Skate Park Mural before the Jan. 12 deadline. The application is here. The application is open to students in high school.

See, this project is more than just beautification of a concrete environment. The LANDBACK Alamosa Skate Mural is a way for teenagers to learn about ways to Indigenize public spaces through art and connect with others in the community who are fighting for causes to advance issues vital to Indigenous people. 

Joeseph Arnoux is the lead muralist on the project.

“I know, it’s not like getting land back directly, but it’s a way to counteract propaganda and just trying to create a voice,” he said. “I just like the idea of bringing all these different facets, these different elements coming together. Because the youth, they feel like the skate parks are their domain. It’s their safe place. And so I wanted to get on that level, to plant that seed in their mind at that age.”

Arnoux (Piikani/Sp’q’n’i) followed experience of a similar project he directed at Wilson Middle School last year. He designed the geometric concept for the mural and led a team of several teenage artists to paint the wall outside the school.

The completed LANDBACK mural project at Wilson Middle School. Arnoux said the skatepark mural will follow similar concepts using geometric designs.

That geometric style will be part of the new mural project.

Most importantly, he said, he built a coalition to help fund the project with the groups Together for Brothers, Working Classrooms and the NACA Inspired Schools Network. This opened his eyes to growing his vision further, leading him to establish a relationship with the City of Albuquerque to fund the LANDBACK Alamosa Skate Mural. 

Ultimately, he envisions a land back mural at a skate park in all quadrants of the city. 

“In all four directions,” he said.

The funding will cover supplies and offer payment to the artists that are picked to work on the mural. Arnoux said it was vital for him to get enough funding to pay the teens because it shows young artists that their time and work must be valued at all times.

Sketches for a grind ledge that will be painted as part of the LANDBACK Alamosa Skate Park Mural project.

“They could put it on the résumé. It could be an outlet, maybe subconsciously get some stuff out emotionally that might come about,” Arnoux said. “All of this, just bey

Sketches for the bowl full pipe spot that will be painted as part of the LANDBACK Alamosa Skate Park Mural project.

ond the culture aspect, I think it all is really significant and beneficial to them, because I know growing up I didn’t necessarily have the same resources.”

The deadline to apply is Wednesday Jan. 12. The application is simple, a few questions seeking basic information. One question does seek insight from the applicant. It asks: What does LANDBACK represent to you? 

“I want to make sure that the youth who are going to be there really want to be there. I think that that will drive their own motivation and inspiration. Their desire to learn more will also assist them in being able to explain what land back means,” he said. “You know, what’s the purpose of trying to make this art and understand land back even more?”

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Shaun Griswold
Shaun Griswold

Shaun Griswold is a journalist in Albuquerque. He is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, and grew up in Albuquerque and Gallup. He brings a decade of print and broadcast news experience. Most recently he covered Indigenous affairs with New Mexico In Depth. Shaun reports on issues important to Native Americans in urban and tribal communities throughout the state, including education and child welfare.