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Mildred Gil Parada

Mildred Gil Parada is a sculptor who works in stone, originally from Venezuela but now based in Mesa, AZ. She intends to to use her month-long residency to experiment with some ideas that have been floating in her mind about combining sculpture with sound. Our selection committee was particularly impressed by Mildred's experience participating in a sculpture symposium in Valencia, Venezuela and the level of community engagement she created through that project.

Mildred wrote in her application: “I've been using only stones from Arizona on my work in the last 5 years…this opportunity to work in the Sonoran Desert and in the Town of Ajo will be a great source of inspiration for experimenting new boundaries of my medium, and reaching a total immersion into my creative process.”

Mildred will be in Ajo January 2-30, 2020.


Jean Bradbury

Jean Bradbury is a painter who has been focused on commissioned, public artwork for many years and is eager to work on more personal pieces during the residency. Jean is based in Seattle and has spent a lot of time in the Middle East, where she manages a craft design project with rural indigenous women.

During her month-long residency Jean wants to create temporary, outdoor installations in cut plywood. She wrote in her application, “Having worked largely on commissioned public art for the past few years, I am now seeking a mental and physical space to explore a more personal artistic practice…This residency would focus my time on fulfilling a vision for temporary outdoor art and allow me to fulfill this dream.” Our committee loved her paintings, and felt the outdoor installations featuring Sonoran Desert flora that she proposes will be of great interest to the community.

Jean will be in Ajo Jan 2-30, 2020.


Juliana Vallejo

Juliana Vallejo is an artist from Colombia who is now based in the Washington, DC area. She focuses on large-scale, expressive portraits, using her bare hands and feet to apply paint to canvas.

During her time here, she created both ink sketches and large-scale painted portraits featuring many remarkable Ajo faces. Juliana said of her culminating gallery show: “The pop-up show at Bonzai Studio was great. I was extremely pleased to see my work next to Gustavo's and experience the connection and conversation between these two bodies of work. It was a very cool experience because we worked separately and at the end there was so much connection between our works.”

Juliana was in Ajo May 4-30, 2019.

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O. Gustavo Plascencia

O. Gustavo Plascencia is a photographer and mixed-media artist who currently teaches at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX. He grew up the Northern Mexican state of Coahuila, and hoped that Ajo would be an ideal setting to further explore the themes of home, belonging, longing and domesticity.

During his residency, he created a number of cyanotypes using found objects and local plants, many printed on vintage linens he found in Ajo’s thrift shops.

He wrote of his time here, “This has been one of the most productive residencies I've ever done. The Sonoran Arts Residency was the perfect balance between artistic exploration and production…the uniqueness comes from the location itself.”

Gustavo was in Ajo May 4-30, 2019.

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Karma Henry

Karma Henry is a visual artist based in California. A member of the Fort Independence Community of Paiute Indians, her striking contemporary paintings include more traditional arts and images as well as modern aspects. Paiute lore and family stories are the basis of her work. During her residency, she created new paintings that combined Ajo landscapes and abstract stencil overlays inspired by the architecture she discovered here. Karma was in Ajo January 5-19, 2019.

She said of her residency, “The environment played an integral part in how I took my process apart and re-tooled it for Ajo…My experience was a great reminder that it can just take a literal different point of view sometimes to move forward in the work.”

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Te Atiwei Ririnui

Te Atiwei Ririnui is a traditional Maori weaver from Auckland, New Zealand. His passion for weaving stems from a desire to keep the tradition alive so that the craft is not lost. During his residency he created a new Kete Whakairo (pattern basket) using materials native to New Zealand, with a complex Maori “Stairway to Heaven” weaving pattern. He also spent time with indigenous artists from Arizona and New Mexico to better understand why and how their art culture is important to them. Te Atiwei was in Ajo January 5-19, 2019.

Upon returning to New Zealand, he wrote of his residency experience, “The exhibit at the Arts Under the Arches was amazing to see… I was able to share stories of my works and how my time in Ajo had helped to shape my understanding of raranga from a Māori perspective by learning about the weaving techniques of the indigenous of Tohono O'odham.”

Click here to see a recent video about Te Atiwei’s work.

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Gregory Spaid

Gregory Spaid is an Ohio-based photographer and art professor at Kenyon College. While in residence, he worked on incorporating Sonoran Desert flora into a series of "environmental portraits" that explore the nature of trees and the influence they have on our lives and on the health of our planet. Greg was in Ajo October 2-16, 2018.

Greg says of his residency experience: “The Sonoran Arts Residency is truly unique, unlike any others I have experienced or heard about…I feel like I left a piece of me in Ajo and am missing the committed people I met in that spirited little town.”

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Emma Lindsay

Dr. Emma Lindsay came to Ajo all the way from Brisbane, Australia. Primarily a painter, she focuses on endangered and extinct species. While in residence, Emma created work about personal encounters with cactus, plants and animal species that survive in arid desert landscapes. Emma was in Ajo October 2-16, 2018.

Emma wrote of her residency experience: “The work I made was not what I'd planned. However - the work produced was very new and experimental, deeply imbued with encounters experienced directly in Ajo with local people, materials and and the environment.”

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Sean Paul Gallegos

Sean Paul Gallegos is a visual artist living in Albuquerque, NM who uses discarded consumer goods - in particular, Nike sneakers - to create small, handwoven sculptures and jewelry based on sacred and ancestral objects. Sean Paul worked on a Sonoran Desert-inspired 3-dimensional work during his residency. He was in Ajo September 16-30, 2018.

Sean Paul wrote of his residency experience: “The perks, guest accommodations and studio are amazing but the real silver lining in this opportunity is the willingness of the community to interact and express their generosity…”

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Linley Logan

Linley Logan is a multimedia Seneca artist based in Washington State. While in residence he worked on a large-scale sculpture of a serpent made from recycled plastic jugs, drawing from his native oral tradition and that of other indigenous people, including the Tohono O'odham. Linley was in Ajo September 16-30, 2018.

Linley said of his residency experience: “Being able to work in my studio for on average 14 hours a day with the longest day being 17 ½ hours on my proposed project was dope for me as an artist.”