Meet the team of our 2021 Apprenticeship for Art & Social Justice!

Ryan Henel

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

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

Born and raised in Albuquerque, NM, Riah Garcia is a passionate and determined individual with a dedication to serving their community. At ACE Leadership High School, Riah developed a skill set in architectural drafting and design. In 2016, they received an honorable mention at APS Metro Youth Show for their work in darkroom photography. They’ve worked in collaborative efforts with ABQ Youth Rising and their high school to take initiative on sexual health education, environmental health, and LGBTQIA+ advocacy in the Albuquerque community.  Working with Harwood’s Apprenticeship for Art & Social Justice, Riah developed skills in a variety of non-traditional mediums such as clay and steel sculptural production. Their work with Harwood continues to inform their artistic style. As an environmentalist, their art focuses on the natural world and ecology; visually engaging with organic forms and natural processes. With Riah’s fine scope on nature’s creations, their intention is for others to find beauty in the unconventional. In their free time, you can find Riah participating in local art events, studying entomology, collecting rocks, and traveling with friends. Being their fourth year participating in the A&SJ Apprenticeship, they are enthused to be back and help fulfill Harwood’s five year commitment with Mesa Verde Park.

Gus Tafoya

Gus Tafoya is a student, filmmaker, artist, writer and performer born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After graduating from the Media Arts Collaborative Charter School with a focus in film and the visual arts, they are now studying Film Production at the University Of New Mexico. In 2020 they were awarded second place UNM Hulsman Emerging Researcher for their paper concerning Folk Music and Language Poetry, and recently screened their poetry film Yucca Lust at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. As he continues to grow he plans on flexing the different mediums while promoting intimate, personal, and relationship based art that is accessible to all people. When they’re not busy with school or other projects, he likes to spend time with friends by cracking wise and enjoying a bite to eat.

Alina Perez-Fuentes

Michelle Pérez-Fuentes is an interdisciplinary artist born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Having started their art practices in 2012 with Barelas-based non profit, Working Classroom, Michelle developed a passion for community and social justice based projects.  With Working Classroom, Michelle worked as a student and intern in “Solving for X,” an original play exploring issues within our education system. Michelle created a video piece and an audio piede for “Cooking for Generations,” a project done originally in collaboration with Three Sisters Kitchen to share food stories and recipes passed down through New Mexican families throughout the decades. Through Working Classroom, Michelle learned important skills such as engaging with their community members, educating themselves about current world events, and using art to communicate different ideas and stories through their work.

In Fall 2019, Michelle was accepted into The Oxbow School in Napa, California. The Oxbow School is a semester-long boarding school for High School and GAP year students to study the arts and grow alongside their peers. After coming back from California, Michelle graduated from Atrisco Heritage Academy in May 2020. Since then, they’ve been spending the last year and a half in quarantine practicing their art skills as an artist. Focusing on working in digital arts, they also explore using new mediums such as watercolor and larger scale projects such as murals. They also like to focus on character creation and design. Michelle finds their motivation through pushing their skill sets, as well as through discovering themselves within their art. They find inspiration in learning more about mental health issues and gender identity issues. In Michelle’s free time, they like to spend time with their friends online, playing videogames and TTRPG’s, as well as practicing the ukulele.

Tamana Syed


Lillie Estes

 Lillie Estes is an Albuquerque artist and student at Prescott College where she’s studying Art and Environmental Studies. As a learning artist, she is experienced in watercolor and oil painting, but explores with a variety of mediums including collage, film and digital photography, and ceramic sculpture. Her work integrates whimsy and playfulness with themes of ecology, identity, and interconnectedness. 

Lillie believes in the ability to use creative practice building meaningful connections that serve healing, community, and understanding. She has been involved in Writers in Residence, a program that engages incarcerated youth with creative writing. Community, sustainable food systems, and intentional living spaces are fundamental in her life, and she enjoys exploring these topics through cooperative living, and time spent living and working on organic farms.  In early 2020 she held a competitive internship at 516 Art Gallery where she developed educational materials and researched for the organization. 

 She is continually inspired and moved by her role as a fourth year lead apprentice for Harwood Art Center’s Apprenticeship for Art & Social Justice. Lillie works both in a creative and administrative capacity and is involved in the large scale metal fabrication portion of the sculpture and project management.  She is delighted to be back in collaboration with her team.

Isabela Ortega

Isabela Ortega is a second year apprentice for Harwood Art Center’s Art and Social Justice Apprenticeship. Born in Albuquerque, NM, she spent most of her life in the International District. She attended La Mesa Elementary, Hayes Middle School, Highland High School, and Mesa Verde Community Center and is proud of her roots in the ID despite its adversity. 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 Fall 2021 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 her spare time, Isabela can usually be found taking care of her plants, journaling, or catching up with her favorite music groups, all while sipping on an obligatory iced coffee.


Natalie Brown

Natalie was born in Albuquerque NM where she has resided all 17 years of her life. Graduating this year from Albuquerque High School, Natalie participated in extra-curricular activities such as ROTC, and Varsity Cheerleading where she enjoyed participating in competitions with her team. Being an artist from a young age, she began experimenting with painting, sculpting and crocheting. Natalie learned about activism through racial equality and LGBTQ rights movements at the early age of 13 which has inspired several of her paintings. With the influence of a family member, she was introduced to several justice advocacy programs; Black Lives Matter of NM, Millions for Prisoners, Mutual Aid & Save The Kids. Being a mixed raced Woman of Color, she understood the need for these organizations and knew her voice was essential in the fight for Social Justice. As a first year apprentice, Natalie is excited to be in collaboration with Harwood A&SJ in their upcoming sculpture “Camino” at Mesa Verde Park.

Alina Pozas

Alina Pozas is a first-generation American, born and raised in Albuquerque. She deeply admires her Chilean heritage and her family’s immigration experience while caring for the city of Albuquerque and how it has fed into her development as a person. Identity, personhood, and the human experience are prominent themes in her art and life. She is drawn to portraiture in oil, but enjoys exploring all mediums including ceramics, video, film photography, and found objects.

Alina assisted the 2014 Vans Custom Culture team in winning $50,000 for public school art programs, is the co-founder of the public art group ARTichokes, and is currently working on her undergraduate degree in art education alongside several other personal creative pursuits. She is very passionate about authentic, creative, and novel expression/experience. She believes art should be accessible because creativity is an intrinsic human need.

She is really honored to be a part of the Harwood Art Center’s mission as she feels it aligns with her core values. Alina is primarily working on the audio, video, and lighting elements of the new sculpture “Camino” with Andrea and Gus.


Lauren Crowder

Born and raised in New Mexico, Lauren Crowder is a Fine art student at the University of New Mexico about to receive her BFA.  She works interdisciplinary in the studio, but has a focus on painting and drawing. Her work has themes in conservation, human rights, politics of being a woman, and environmentalism. She was raised by her grandmother who lived through the Great Depression in the middle of the dust bowl. Being a driving force in her life, Lauren’s grandmother influences her every move as an artist, environmentalist, and as a person. Her guidance has encouraged Lauren to explore the physical and emotional connection humanity has with land. She is especially interested in creating work that is in dedication to land, community, and the delicate interplay between the two of them. She has a personal practice that involves the reciprocity between community, the more than human ecosystem, and conservation. Overall, Lauren is an intensely dedicated person to her practice and home, Albuquerque, New Mexico, a place more beautiful than one could begin to imagine. 

Andrea Selfridge

Andrea Selfridge is a first-year apprentice for Harwood Art Center’s Apprenticeship for Art & Social Justice. She was born in Albuquerque, NM, and has lived the majority of her life growing up in the South Valley. She is a recent graduate from South Valley Academy’s class of 2021 where she was involved with Student Council (as Student Body President), Faces for the Future, South Valley Peers in Action, GSA, Yearbook Club, MESA, and many other extracurricular activities. Andrea is a passionate member of the Albuquerque community as she has been able to gain the role of being an advocate through her strong engagement. Her involvement with Planned Parenthood has allowed her to teach sex education to her peers and other students within the Albuquerque area. She has volunteered/interned at a variety of nonprofits throughout Albuquerque such as Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Paws and Stripes, Agora Crisis Center, and the UNM Women’s Resource Center. Andrea will be attending the University of Colorado Denver in the Fall of 2021 where she will major in Psychology while on a Pre-Medicine health career track. She is also a recipient of the prestigious Daniels Fund Scholarship and the New Mexico Simon Scholarship.

Andrea enjoys working with many mediums such as watercolor painting, acrylic painting, pen drawing, and both film and digital photography. Andrea’s passion for social justice can often be seen to be reflected within her art, specifically her passion for reproductive health and mental health. Andrea’s film photography was featured within Working Classroom’s YOUth Matter showcase at La Esquinita. Andrea also has a small jewelry business which has allowed her to become involved within the art community in Albuquerque through vending at a variety of local events such as at the Albuquerque Artwalk and the Little Market ABQ.

During her free time, you can find Andrea making art, taking pictures, reading, journaling, listening to music, singing, visiting local coffee shops or attending community events.