Naomi Ortiz – Border Narrative Grant Awardee

Ortiz is a 2021-2022 National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) Border Narrative Grant Awardee for her multidisciplinary project, Complicating Conversations.

Complicating Conversations between Disability Justice and Eco-justice in the AZ Borderlands is a multidisciplinary project using poetry, prose and paintings to describe artist Naomi Ortiz’ personal struggle to bear witness to climate-change and support the protection of the borderlands. Using a lens of disability justice from the artist’s lived experience as the daughter of formerly undocumented, indigenous and multiracial peoples, a series of interactive workshops and discussions will be facilitated by Ortiz to contemplate climate change and the ways disability justice, eco-justice, and immigration within the borderlands are in conversation with one another.

Ortiz says, “Extraction is a dominant perspective outside of the Arizona Borderlands, whether of cheap migrant labor or of resources from the land. Through my project, I hope to contribute to shifting this narrative, highlighting the vision that the land and people who live here are deserving of ecosystem diversity and that the value of nonhuman life is independent of its usefulness for human purposes. Moreover, through my poetry, visual art, and community-based discussions, this project will affirm that acting towards these goals must extend beyond nondisabled environmental activism and incorporate spiritual elements to be present with land that is quickly shifting due to climate change. My work will offer disability justice as a complex lens in which to explore climate justice, challenging environmental movements to be in conversation with disabled people as changemakers.

“Disability justice and eco-justice rarely are explored in the same mouthful, but are in constant conversation in our world. As a poet and visual artist, I want to explore how we can expand on and complicate the dialogue between these two movements.

“My creative work explores, documents, and attends to the emotional and spiritual roots of the land and what is growing in my community.”

Complicating Conversations is supported in part by Reclaiming the Border Narrative, a project of the Ford Foundation and The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC), via a Border Narrative Change Grant awarded to Naomi Ortiz by NALAC.”

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