Diné College Co-Grant Directors, Shaina Nez and Crystal Littleben, Receive NM Creative Industries Funds for 2024 Diné Artisan/Author Fellowship

Diné College Co-Grant Directors, Shaina Nez and Crystal Littleben, Receive NM Creative Industries Funds for 2024 Diné Artisan/Author Fellowship

19 December 2023

TSAILE, AZ — The New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD) announced that 18 projects in 15 communities and 3 pueblos across New Mexico are recipients of the inaugural Creative Industries Grant Awards.

Diné College in Shiprock, New Mexico, received $100,000.00 for the “Diné Artisans and Authors for Capacity Building Institute (DAACBI),” which will support the development of allying emerging and established creative entrepreneurs in New Mexico with technical and professional services and expertise.

The grants flow from House Bill 8, passed during the 2023 Legislature, which establishes the Creative Industries Division as part of the Economic Development Department. The newly announced grants will catalyze local communities and tribes to stimulate

advancement or economic development through creative industries. A total of $1.8 million is being awarded.

“The Creative Industries Grants support projects that demonstrate the potential to make a significant impact on New Mexico’s creative industries economy. Following a competitive process, the initiatives were chosen for their creativity and clear commitment to advancing creative industry-based economic development by supporting businesses in creative industries throughout New Mexico,” EDD Deputy Secretary Jon Clark said. “These awards will provide crucial support for a wide range of initiatives, from cultural preservation and arts education to community engagement and economic development.”

About the Diné Artisans and Authors for Capacity Building Institute (DAACBI) Fellowship program

DAACBI’s mission is to support the development of allying New Mexican emerging and established creative entrepreneurs by providing technical and professional services and expertise. Our vision is to create equity in the Diné arts and publishing world, DAACBI shapes emerging artisans and authors into established artisans and authors.

Our goals for the fellows is to meet once a week for mentorship instruction for 8 weeks based on their discipline (Hybrid-writing, Diné Silversmithing, and Diné Weaving). They will submit a final draft of their work and attend additional aesthetic-based workshops building their skillset, produce newer versions of their work in the editing and revising stages, and will be published in a jointed artisan and author anthology by Abalone Mountain Press.

The mentor’s teaching the three disciplines are chosen based on their experiences in the publishing and artisan industries. Learn more about the 2024 DAACBI Mentors here:

Amber McCrary (Hybrid-Writing) is a Diné poet, zinester, feminist, and artist. She is Red House born for Mexican people. Originally from Shonto, Arizona, and raised in Flagstaff,

Arizona. She earned her BA from Arizona State University in Political Science with a minor in American Indian Studies. She received her MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry at Mills College. She is also the creator of DANG! Zine (Daydreaming, Awkward, Native, Girl) Vol. 1 and Vol.2, Angsty Asdzáá: Tales of an angry Indigenous Woman zine and The Asdzáá Beat. She released a chapbook titled, Electric Deserts! (Tolsun Books). McCrary is the owner and founder of Abalone Mountain Press, a press dedicated to publishing Indigenous voices. She is a board member of the Northern Arizona Book Festival, the AZ Humanities 2022 Rising Star of the Year, and a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation LIFT awardee.

Byron Aspaas (Hybrid-Writing) is a Diné (Navajo) poet whose works work has been published in journals and anthologies including RedInk, Yellow Medicine Review, the Denver Quarterly, and the Diné Reader, and works remotely from Colorado as adjunct faculty at San Juan College while teaching continuing education courses with the Institute of American Indian Arts and the Identity Project.

Venancio Aragon (Weaving) is a Navajo textile artist who combines the ancient techniques of his ancestors with polychromatic design. Venancio specializes in rare and uncommon techniques including various twills, two-faced, tufting, and hybrids. His textiles have been part of numerous exhibitions and publications. Venancio currently teaches Navajo textile arts for the Navajo Cultural Arts Program (NCAP) at Diné College.

Anthony Goldtooth, Jr. (Silversmithing) is a Navajo silversmith from Shiprock, New Mexico. Anthony comes from a multi-generational family of silversmiths starting with his great-great grandfather. Anthony currently teaches Navajo silversmithing for the Navajo Cultural Arts Program (NCAP) at Diné College.

Fellowship Application Requirements:

– 19 years of age or older.

– Must be Diné

– Must reside in, or be originally from, the state of New Mexico.

– For Writing Fellows: Has never published a solo book-length manuscript.

– For Silversmithing and Weaving Fellows: Never been a part of juried Art markets and have an established business (e.g., self-employed or commissioned work).

DAACBI Fellowship application deadline: Friday, January 12, 2024, by 11:59 p.m. (MT).

Application link: https://forms.gle/3PhVAEzsTiiQotkc9

The Creative Industries Grants are the first action of EDD’s newly created Creative Industries Division, created in statute and established earlier this year with a one-time $2 million appropriation from the Legislature. To guide the creation of the new division, EDD issued a Request for Proposals for the development of a statewide plan for the Creative Industries Division that includes viable program models, implementation partners, projected budgets, and an analysis of creative industry opportunities within the state. EDD has selected Santa Fe-based Creative Startups as the contractor for the Creative Industries Division Study. With experience in developing regional creative economy plans and a deep understanding of New Mexico’s creative industries, Creative Startups will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the Creative Industries Division. Shani Harvie, Coordinator for the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Office of EDD is currently leading the division startup, which includes the selected contractor and awarded projects. The JEDI Office and Economic Development Division of the Department will work closely with each grant recipient and Creative Startup to ensure the successful implementation of local initiatives and the development of a comprehensive statewide plan that will inform the future growth of the division. “We are excited to see these projects come to life and make a lasting impact on our creative community,” Harvie said. “These grant awards and the selection of Creative Startups reflect the vibrant and diverse creative talents we have across New Mexico.”

For more information about the Creative Industries Division, the Creative Industries Grants, or the division study, please contact Harvie at Shani.Harvie@edd.nm.gov or visit edd.newmexico.gov/business-development/creative-industries.

If you have any questions about the fellowship, contact Crystal C. Littleben at cclittleben@dinecollege.edu and Shaina A. Nez at shainez@dinecollege.edu.


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