CNM Alumnus Named as Curator at 516 Arts
Photo by: Daniel Ulibarri, 516 ARTS Education & Digital Engagement Coordinator

CNM Alumnus Named as Curator at 516 Arts

In her role as curator, Rachelle B. Pablo is excited to broaden the gallery’s focus on Native and queer art
December 02, 2022

Rachelle B. Pablo enrolled at CNM during the 2008 recession and during one of her Anthropology classes she distinctly remembers learning about the cultural artworks of Mesoamerica. The content created a spark and that spark prompted her to start taking art and art history classes as well. In the CNM Art department she met instructor Virginia Baich, who was passionate, helpful, and ultimately helped Rachelle decide to pursue a career in this field.

“Virginia’s pedagogy and her methodology around art really spoke to my interests and she was a huge inspiration,” Rachelle says. 

Rachelle went on to graduate from CNM with degrees in Anthropology, Liberal Arts, and General Studies. As a Diné (Navajo) scholar, she had been thinking more and more about the interpretations of Indigenous art so her next step was to enroll at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe. There she began to dig into how she could help Indigenous artists and scholars create their own narratives and analysis. 

“Historically there has been a lot of romanticization around Native art, which contributes to the fetishization of Native people, as well as a lot of misinterpretations by non-natives,” she says. “I became very passionate about bringing an authentic interpretation from an indigenous perspective and empowering indigenous artists with dignity.” 

At IAIA, Rachelle received several more degrees including a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Studio Arts, a minor in Museum Studies, and a Business and Entrepreneurship certificate. Still not done with her education, she enrolled at the University of Delaware where she earned a Masters of Arts in Art History.  

While participating in post-graduate fellowships, Rachelle heard that there was an opening for the Curator position at 516 Arts so she applied and was hired six months ago. Her position at 516 is supported in part by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation that’s designed to focus on Native American intellectual leadership.

In her role as the curator, Rachelle is excited to create more access for many different communities of artists. She grew up in Gallup, New Mexico, and loves Albuquerque and knows she can find creative ways to highlight local artists. 

With her background in Native art, Rachelle says she wants to highlight “the practices and the contemporary experimentation of Indigeneity as one of the leading elements of contemporary art today.”

“I hope to emphasize Indigeneity in a way where I can bring my lens and interpretation to all of our various shows,” she says. 

As a queer artist and curator, Rachelle is also working on projects that promote this community.

“I always want to address the fact that this community is often overlooked but plays a very important role within the arts,” she says. 

This coming summer Rachelle hopes to collaborate with the Center of Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe on a 2SLGBTQIA show highlighting the queer community. 

Other focuses include the environment, the Latinx community, and a broad plan for creative Indigenous arts programming.

“I’m excited about my new position at 516 but I will always look back and be thankful for CNM,” Rachelle says. “The professors were amazing and they definitely helped me get my start.”