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Valerie Martinez
Founding Director

Valerie Martínez is a professional poet, educator, arts administrator, consultant, and collaborative artist who descends from Hispanic, Pueblo, and Dinè ancestors in the Southwest US. She was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has lived and worked in Albuquerque since 2005.


From 2008 to 2023, Valerie worked with children, young adults, adults, teachers, and elders in a wide range of arts and community development programs.  


During her 8 year tenure with Littleglobe (2006-2015) and as Founding Director of Artful Life (2015-2023), Valerie has been a Project Director and/or Collaborative Artist for a wide range of arts and social change projects:  Stories of Route 66: The International District; TIASO Artist Co-Op; Women & Creativity; EKCO; Common Ground TOC, Littleglobe 3CE; Artist to Artist/Open Books; Lines & Circles; Lifesongs,  Memorylines: Voces de Nuestras Jornadas, MICA Community Arts and Convening Project, Salve: Women on War & Warriorship, Santa Fe Bus Opera, and Sharing the Same Space.

Valerie has a B.A. from Vassar College and an M.F.A. from the University of Arizona. Before entering the field of arts and community development in 2007, Valerie taught at the college/university level for 23 years, including four years at New Mexico Highlands University and six years at the College of Santa Fe. She has traveled widely (both nationally and internationally), lived and taught in Southern Africa from 1993-1995, and resided in five U.S. states. Her work is guided by the tremendous wisdom and guidance of people and communities that she has known and learned from along the way.


Valerie's community arts projects in New Mexico include:


CHART Santa Fe.  The goal of the CHART project (August 2021 - August 2022) was to engage the diverse citizenry of the city and county of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in activities--public dialogue, interviews, art activations, and more--that solicited their perspectives and opinions about issues related to culture, history, art, reconciliation, and truth. The project (a contract by the City of Santa Fe) was sparked by controversies about monuments and statues. The 12 month project resulted in a final report with 52 recommendations to the Governing Body of the City of Santa Fe. Learn more and read the final report:


Common Ground Santa Fe. Martínez (Director) formed, trained, and directed a Santa Fe-based, five-member, community-engagement team that conducted three, large public engagement sessions for the City of Santa Fe’s Midtown Campus Project (2018 version). Common Ground’s participation in this larger project was funded by the McCune Charitable Foundation and resulted in a report with recommendations for the City of Santa Fe about how to improve its method and practices for effective community engagement. (2017-2018)


City of Santa Fe Proclamation ending the Santa Fe Fiesta Entrada. Co-Authors Valerie Martínez, Hakim Bellamy, Chasity Salvador, Michelle Otero, and Cheryl Fairbanks. Following a year of conversations, the All Pueblo Council of Governors, Archdiocese of Santa Fe, City of Santa Fe, Los Caballeros De Vargas, and Santa Fe Fiesta Council agreed to end the Entrada feature of the Santa Fe Fiesta. The author team, chosen by the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission, was charged with composing the proclamation based on detailed notes/minutes from a year of meetings between the Council, Archdiocese, Caballeros and Fiesta Council--their words, stories, and perspectives.  The proclamation reflected the truth, reconciliation and healing process that brought the organizations into agreement. The proclamation was read on August 29, 2018 at a public ceremony on the Santa Fe plaza. (February-August 2018)


Lines & Circles—A Celebration of Santa Fe Families. This project, directed by Martínez in her capacity as Poet Laureate of Santa Fe, brought together three and four generations of 11 Santa Fe families (98 participating family members), each to create a unique family “work”—installation, film visual art, book, sound piece, sculpture--accompanied by an original poem. Over eighteen months the families were individually interviewed and worked in multigenerational teams as well as gathered with the full group to talk, eat, and tell each other their stories. Each family was also paired with a professional artist who helped it envision and create its work. The finished pieces constituted an exhibit entitled, “Lines & Circles: A Celebration of Santa Fe Families,” which premiered at the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission Gallery at the Santa Fe Convention Center in January of 2010. A book (Sunstone Press 2010) documented the project (see section H. Supporting Materials). The opening reception drew over 450 people and was a contemporary landmark in bringing a diverse crowd of Santa Feans together to deepen their understanding of the city’s families—beyond the tri-cultural myth. Funders:  City of Santa Fe Arts Commission, Lannan Foundation. (2008-2010).


Rivers Run Through Us. Co-Directors: Valerie Martínez, Bobbe Besold and Dominique Mazeaud. Twelve months of community engagement activities and coordination (with partners organizations, schools, neighborhoods, and Cochiti Pueblo) led to Martínez, Besold and Mazeaud walking the 54-mile length of the Santa Fe River (from the upper watershed at 11,000 ft. to Cochiti Pueblo, where the river joins the Rio Grande). The team lived on along the river for 5 days and nights from May 16-21, 2012. Community partner organizations hosted workshops, art-making, and events along the river, meeting the team along the way, and drew over 200 people to the river. The project promoted awareness of, engagement with, and conservation of river systems, earth and water and led to a range of subsequent river-related projects. Project partners and funders: City of Santa Fe, WildEarth Guardians, The Santa Fe Watershed Association, Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary, Artful Life, Amigos Bravos, Center for Contemporary Arts, the Santa Fe Art Institute, and the Western Hardrock Watershed Team. Because the river meets the Rio Grande at Cochiti Pueblo, permissions and blessings from the Cochiti Tribal Council were an important part of the project. Learn more: (June 2011-May 2014). 


Santa Fe Bus Opera: “Margin to Margin, End to End.” Project Directors: Valerie Martínez and Acushla Bastible; Libretto and Music, Valerie Martínez and Robby Rothschild—with Littleglobe, Inc. This project created a performance/opera performed twice on Santa Fe city buses in October of 2010. The script/libretto (see Section H. Supporting Materials) was developed by a 12-month community process that included interviews and storytelling gatherings with Santa Feans, ages 13-82.  The story emerged from this rich source material and evokes issues, stories, perspectives, and dreams at the heart of community life:  home, wandering, longing, and belonging. Project partners and funders:  City of Santa Fe/Santa Fe Trails Bus System, Santa Fe Opera, and the Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureau.  Funding: Multi-Arts Project (MAP) Fund, New Mexico Arts (a department of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs), the Santa Fe Arts Commission 1% Lodgers Tax Fund, Black Rock Arts, and a range of individual donors. (2009-2013). Learn more.


Memorylines: Voces de Nuestras Jornadas. Littleglobe multidisciplinary artist team and community facilitators: Valerie Martínez, Molly Sturges, Rulan Tangen, David Dunn, Chris Abeyta, Chrissie Orr, Acushla Bastible, Chris Jonas, Jaime Becerill, Kina Murphy, David Gallegos. Director: Molly Sturges, Littleglobe, Inc. Memorylines was a community inclusive, contemporary opera that illuminated Santa Fe’s unique and diverse cultures. The project engaged 25 community participants--ages 8 to 87, across economic, generational, and cultural lines--in a five-month creative process which fostered community dialogue, empowerment, and empathy. The performance was accompanied by a 12 piece orchestra, integrated elements of contemporary video, set design, acoustic ecology, storytelling, choreography, and movement. The opera premiered in May 2007 at The Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe and illuminated underrepresented expressions and stories about immigration, self- identity, culture, home, and community. Project partners and funders: Littleglobe, Inc., Santa Fe Opera, Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez/Office of the NM State Historian, The Lensic Performing Arts Center, McCune Charitable Foundation, New Mexico Film Office, individual donors.  (October 2007-May 2008) See video clips:


Common Ground Albuquerque. Co-Directors, Valerie Martínez, Dr. Shelle Van Etten de Sanchez, and Charlie Wisoff. Directors designed and implemented a series of 32 hour-long interviews with leaders of Albuquerque business, arts and social service organizations focused on how neighborhoods can better guide and create sector development and how municipal agencies can more effectively engage with communities and neighborhoods. Interviews led to a compilation of survey results and a convening to share results and next steps.  The project was funded by the New Mexico McCune Foundation. (May 2017-May 2018)


Common Ground TOC (2007-2010), a Littleglobe project in Ojo Encino, Torreón, and Cuba New Mexico, brought together over 150 community members for arts-based creative engagement as well as continuing community development efforts. These interrelated communities have been deeply affected by ecological change, poverty, racism, and homelessness. The struggle to survive has often emphasized differences between these communities, yet they share a basic desire for connection and growth. From January to June 2008, 150 residents, ages 5-85, came together on a weekly basis for fellowship, creative exercises, and community dialogue that resulted in a community-generated festival of film, storytelling, movement, poetry, spoken word and music. Residents subsequently formed the TOC Regional Community Council, administering art and community development projects in the area. Artist team: Molly Sturges, Chris Jonas, Kialo Winters, Valerie Martinez, Ed Radke, David Gallegos, Leland Chapin, Jason Jaacks. Learn more.


“Stories of Route 66” and “This is Our ID." Director: Valerie Martínez (with Littleglobe 2013-2015, with Artful Life 2015-present). These two arts engagement projects are part of a long-term arts and community development initiative in the International District (ID) of Albuquerque, New Mexico--the most ethnically diverse legislative district in New Mexico and the epicenter of refugee settlement. There are 43 languages spoken in the public schools in the ID and it is home to native New Mexican families, immigrants and others who are African-American, Asian-American, Middle Eastern, Latin American, Mexican-American, and Cuban. In 2013, the NEA awarded the City of Albuquerque Cultural Services Department a grant of $150,000 for an Our Town Livability Project in the Public Space/Infrastructure category. The grant supported the arts-engagement, community design process of new permanent community gathering spaces along Route 66 in Albuquerque that would serve as performance sites and gateways to neighborhood history. Littleglobe designed and coordinated 6 months of community convenings to gather stories and engage residents in collaborative art-making that resulted in art and performances (summer 2014) at neighborhood sites. Subsequently and to this day, Artful Life continues to work with district residents (especially youth), coordinating projects that have invested over $350,000 into the district and resulted in additional works of art and community initiatives: sculpture—"Morning Glory” and “Iris;” photo portraits of hundreds of residents; short videos co-created by community members and artists; murals—"What is Diversity?” “Bottles to Butterflies,” “Growing Together,” Vision Zero at Expo New Mexico (premiering August 2021); avenue banners on Rt. 66/Central Ave; the Refugee Mentoring Project, and the Migration Experience Film and Discussion Series.


Cultural History Projects: La Canoa and Tertulia Histórica Speaker Series, “Who We Are, Together” Family DNA-Genealogy Project, Barelas Trilogy of Plays.  In her capacity as Director of History and Literary Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Martínez managed two historical lecture series, a DNA-Genealogy project engaging 8 New Mexico families, and a neighborhood memoir project (storytelling, writing) that produced a trilogy of plays about the historic Barelas neighborhood of Albuquerque. (2018-2021).


Culture Connects—Martínez served as one of the roundtable facilitators for the Women and Creativity convening event that was part of “Culture Connects.” From the Culture Connects “Cartography” report: “This gathering of nearly 75 women from across the community centered on conversations about culture from their multiple perspectives. Set in the courtyard of the Santa Fe Community Convention Center on a crisp and sunny spring afternoon, the event elicited profound themes of both hope and concern, in part prompted by the objects participants were invited to bring. These objects held meaning, memory, and story, and included such things as a clump of dirt, a chile pepper, a ceramic seed pot, and a Pictish Kings bracelet. Other treasured illustrated openness, desire, and aspiration and, collectively, a sense of connection, identity, and belonging.”

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