Meet the team of our 2020 Apprenticeship for Art & Social Justice!

Ryan Henel

Lead Artist

Ryan Henel is the Field Coordinator for the University of New Mexico’s Land Arts of the American West program (2012-present). He has a BAFA, University of New Mexico, in Studio Art – Sculpture (2004), and an MFA, University of New Mexico, in Art + Ecology (2014). He is a practicing artist who develops site-specific public artworks and temporary installations that use perspective, patterns and scale to prompt the viewer to experience a different understanding of their place in an environment.

Helen Atkins

Lead Artist 

Helen Atkins is an interdisciplinary artist from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She received her BA in Studio Arts from the University of New Mexico in 2016. Atkins is a 2018 recipient of the inaugural Women & Creativity “Shine” Awards, honoring creative women and their work in their community. She was a featured artist for Burque Noir’s 2018 “Making Africa” opening event at the Albuquerque Museum. Atkins was the inaugural Mentoring Artist in Residence for ArtStreet a Program of Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless from 2017-18. She is a co-founder of Plates Against Patriarchy, a community engagement visual arts and storytelling project that challenges patriarchal systems of power. Atkins currently serves on the Albuquerque Museum Board of Trustees.

Mariah Garcia

Lead Apprentice

Born and raised in Albuquerque, NM, Mariah Garcia is a passionate and determined individual when it comes to serving her community. Previously attending ACE Leadership High School, she developed a skill set in architectural drafting and design. In 2016, Mariah received an honorable mention at APS Metro Youth Show for her work in darkroom photography. In the past, she has worked in collaborative efforts with ABQ Youth Rising and her high school to take initiative on topics such as sexual health, environmental health, and LGBTQIA+ advocacy in the community. Working with Harwood A&SJ, the program has challenged her to work with art mediums outside of her normal comforts. This has continued to help refine her artistic style. As an environmentalist, most of her art has a focal point on nature, from organic forms to natural processes. She hopes through her fine scope on nature’s creations, people will find beauty in the unconventional. In her free time, Mariah enjoys participating in local music events, studying entomology, collecting rocks, and traveling with friends. Being her third year participating in the apprenticeship, she is enthused to be back and help fulfill Harwood’s five year commitment with Mesa Verde Park.

Elliot Pending

2nd Year Apprentice

Elliot Pending is a 17-year-old from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a returning second-year apprentice in Harwood Art Center’s Apprenticeship for Art and Social Justice. Having attended Media Arts Collaborative Charter school, and Nex+ gen Academy (current), he uses a variety of mediums to convey ideas of everyday life. His favorite being mixed media collage. As a queer Indigenous person, from the Navajo Nation, he has experienced hardships that many Indigenous people face. He hopes to be further involved with movements such as MMIW, and the Black Lives Matter movement in his life’s work assisted by his art.

To battle inconsistencies in his life, Elliot looks to Sci-Fi and Fantasy as a comfort. Reading and watching Sci-Fi classics such as Avatar the Last Airbender, The Left Hand of Darkness, and Contact let him explore other realities and possibilities much as he does in his work.

Elijah Chavez

1st Year Apprentice

Elijah Chavez is a first year apprentice at Harwood Art Center’s Apprenticeship for Art and Social Justice. He attends New York University, studying Studio Art and Public Policy. Born and raised in the South Valley of Albuquerque, Elijah has always had a passion for art and social justice. He graduated from Atrisco Heritage Academy High School in 2019 within the Top 10 of his class. He also attended the Oxbow School, a semester visual art program in Napa, California in the fall of 2018. Elijah works interdisciplinarily within multiple mediums (painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, photography etc.) and concepts exploring the intersectionality of queer identities and spaces.In high school, Elijah was involved in Student Council, the National Honor Society, UNM Upward Bound, volunteering at the Valle de Oro Wildlife Refuge among other activities. Elijah has won awards in the APS Metro Youth Art Show in sculpture and printmaking. Elijah has worked on murals and other artistic collaborations with Working Classroom, where he served as the Student Representative on their Board of Directors. Elijah is excited to work with the Harwood Art Center this summer, even during this unprecedented time. In his free time, Elijah enjoys making art, reading, watching movies/shows, traveling, being in nature, journaling, and seeing funny memes.







Lilian Estes

Lead Apprentice

Lillie Estes is a third year lead apprentice at Harwood Art Center’s Apprenticeship for Art and Social Justice. She attends Oberlin College where she is studying Environmental Studies and Arts Administration. As a learning artist, she enjoys a variety of mediums including oil, film and digital photography and ceramic sculpture. A large majority of her work reflects on exploring identity through the self.  Estes has deep rooted beliefs in upholding social justice, humanitarian action and creative expression, and is involved with many social justice oriented activities including Writers in Residence, a program that teaches writing skills to incarcerated youth. She also worked on exhibition research and created educational resources with her Internship at 516 Art Gallery. Community, food and intentional living spaces are fundamental in her life, and is a “Granola Maker” for her living and dining COOP, Harkness. 

A recent graduate of Albuquerque Highschool, she held leadership positions for National Arts Honor Society, Model United Nations,  and Youth in Government. Throughout her high school experience she has had photography featured in In post Arts center, the Albuquerque Museum’s Focus Show, and in the APS metro art show and has received merit awards in photography and watercolor.

Isabela Ortega

​1st Year Apprentice

Isabela Ortega is a first year apprentice for Harwood Art Center’s Art and Social Justice Apprenticeship. She was born in Albuquerque, NM, and has spent most of her life in the International District. She attended La Mesa Elementary, Hayes Middle School, and Mesa Verde Community Center and is proud of her roots in the ID despite its adversity. Isabela is a recent graduate from Highland High School’s Class of 2020. At Highland, Isabela graduated in the Top 5 of her class, was involved in Student Senate as an officer, Deca, MEChA, Model United Nations, and more. In the Fall of 2019, Isabela attended The Oxbow School, a semester school of art and academics in Napa, California. She plans on attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Fall on merit scholarship. Isabela has always been community and social-justice oriented and her artwork reflects such. She has experience with a variety of mediums but has worked the most with sculpture and printmaking. Contemporary issues and activism are motifs and recurring themes within Isabela’s artwork, often inspired by symbolism in the mundane. For the past 7 years, Isabela has had most of her art experience through Working Classroom, where she has participated in mural teams, apprenticeships, internships, and taken many workshops. In the Summer of 2019, Isabela was an intern at the Office of the Second Judicial District Attorney with the Special Victims Unit, where she became interested in pursuing Civil Law after obtaining her BFA. In her spare time, Isabela can usually be found watching anime, journaling, carefully curating Spotify playlists, or talking incessantly about her love for BTS.


Morgan Coleman

1st Year Apprentice

Poet, Scenic Carpenter, Sculpture, Painter, Videographer, Photographer & Wood Burner
From the quaint city of Des Moines, Iowa I have come to Albuquerque to study Set/Stage Design & Sculpture at UNM. As an artist I am inspired by the magic of the human mind to twist ideas and thoughts into beautiful displays that allow for the transformation of place, ideas and mood. Transformation is the human way and I have a responsibility in this life to create space that not only provokes thought but gives it the freedom to bend and bounce. By investigating human to nature interactions, consciousness and philosophy I bring my creations to life with a variety of mediums.

Joursele Kchrezne Bang-as

2nd Year Apprentice

Joursele Bang-As was born in Baguio City, Philippines, later moving to the U.S. at a young age. She has been involved with Harwood’s Creative Roots programs since 7th grade, later growing a passion for community service. Through her involvement in Harwood, she understands the importance of collaborative art to revitalize Albuquerque neighborhoods and initiate stable relationships within its environment. As a second year Apprentice, she has previous knowledge in 3D computer graphics as well as painting. Continuing this summer she hopes to utilize her talents to contribute towards the Mesa Verde community and the International District.


Ilyssa Gutierrez

​2nd Year Apprentice

 Ilyssa Gutierrez is a second-year apprentice at Harwood Art Center’s Apprenticeship for Art and Social Justice. She currently attends Nex+gen Academy High School where she focuses on technology and project-based learning techniques. She was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and feels a responsibility to be an active community member. Since art is an accessible tool for Ilyssa, she uses it to intersect political activism and social justice causes to engage a variety of audiences. This has led her to volunteer in organizations such as Valle de Oro, Roadrunner Food Bank, and the American Lung Association. 

She initially got involved in photography at a young age and wanted that to be her prime study. But as she progressed further into the arts, this allowed her to experiment with many other mediums. Her studies now include printmaking, ink drawing, watercolor, and film. Digital art is also very present in Ilyssa’s work as Nex+gen academy has skilled her in Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. In addition to being featured in numerous exhibits, she has received multiple awards, the primary being featured in the Metro Art Exhibit and lettering in the arts for her Photography and ink drawings. 

During Ilyssa’s free time you can catch her tending to her apiary, trying out new bread or kombucha recipes, finding new vinyl to add to her collection, reading biographies, or most likely listening to a crime podcast while making art.