Makin' the Medias in Mérida

Nestor, Raquel, Mandi & Allie after recording for Telesur on Saturday, August 22, 2015 en la casa con la puerta azul. 

Nestor, Raquel, Mandi & Allie after recording for Telesur on Saturday, August 22, 2015 en la casa con la puerta azul. 

The last five days have been a complete whirlwind for Allie Jordan & myself, Mandi Strickland. Last Saturday, with the help of our friends, we threw a couple of coats of yellow & turquoise paint on our Mérida house located in the Santiago neighborhood of the Centro, opened up the doors, and invited the people of Mérida to view and buy 40 unique pocket t-shirts. We created a small "store" in our house, featuring YAXHA Bordados products & telling the story of Ko'ox Boon through photography & video.

The party was set to begin at 6 pm. Allie and I were still getting dressed, when the crew from a local news channel "Telesur" walked into the blue front doors. I greeted them profusely, my hair in knots, and excused myself. My voice shook as I knocked on the bathroom door, "Um, Allie, I think you should probably get out of the shower. We have a TV interview in five minutes." 

Raquel & Nestor--the reporters from Telesur--made us feel right at home. At first, we were afraid. The big, red microphone very close to our faces, Raquel still managed to transfuse her confidence into us. We traded back and forth talking, then looking at each other in silent encouragement. After the interview, Raquel and Nestor went back to the office to drop off their equipment & return to our party, this time to have a few beers. 

On Monday we received messages from reporter Abraham Bote at Diario de Yucatán, the peninsula's longest-running, most respected print news source. He hurriedly made plans to interview us the next day. That night we made chicken curry and streamed our TV interview from the local news, picking apart our strengths & weaknesses, and prepared the Spanish words in the right order for our first print interview: conservar, desarollar, promover. 

Mandi & Allie with reporter, Abraham Bote from Diario de Yucatán, wearing his new YAXHA Bordados pocket t-shirt by Ko'ox Boon. (Yes, Allie and I are wearing the same shirts in both interviews.)

Mandi & Allie with reporter, Abraham Bote from Diario de Yucatán, wearing his new YAXHA Bordados pocket t-shirt by Ko'ox Boon. (Yes, Allie and I are wearing the same shirts in both interviews.)

At 2:03 pm on Tuesday we arrived at the Diario, bringing along our trusty intern, Orlando Dominguez for Spanish back-up. We were all palpably intimidated. The ceilings were a million feet tall. There was marble and really, really big, practical paintings of pyramids taking up two stories of walls. Glass cases displayed antique typewriters and printing presses. 

The lady at the front desk called the reporter on a land-line, while Allie, Orlando & I sat in soft, black chairs and waited.  Abraham walked us through a maze of impressive architecture into a conference room with squeaky leather chairs and warm books. He interviewed us with patience, interest, and kindness, and in true, southern girl style, Abraham (like Raquel and Nestor) became our friend by the end of our 30 minute conversation.  

The next morning I proudly hustled two blocks to the news stand, where the lady who sold me two copies of the newspaper told me that she was grateful for the work of the foundation, Ko'ox Boon. She had already read the article, titled, "Un Mundo Más Igual." 

It means, "A more equal world" in English, and it's nestled in page two of the Local section underneath a header titled, "Nuestra Gente." Our people creating a more equal world. This, in itself, feels like a step towards equality, across gender, class, and race. Allie and I are the people of Yucatán, too. 

At the end of the week, we send out a million thanks to the people of Mérida, Yaxhachen, Oxkutzcab & Jackson, Mississippi alike. Thank you for the constant support & for always wanting to share our story. We love you! <3


Links to Mérida Media!

MACAY ArteConexión Radio interview, July 31st, 2015: Part 1 & Part 2

Telesur TV interview: August 24th, 2015

Diario de Yucatán news article: August 26th, 2015 

Blog post about our YAXHA fiestita by Eclosión Cultural 

desde sus ojos ►


Method: GoPro Hero 4 camera, attached by head strap, bicicleta. Assignment: you have 10 minutes to show the world your favorite spots in Yaxhachen. In this video, 11 year old Enrique Xul Us, takes us on a bike ride through the pueblo where he was born and raised. The sights he reveals are enthralling -- traditionally constructed palapa houses, big beautiful Yucatan sky, and even a flash of the mural that Enrique painted this past summer with Ko'ox Boon in the Yaxhachen centro. Most importantly, we see Yaxhachen desde sus ojos... from his eyes.

Making Light in Yaxhachen

Making Light in Yaxhachen

The gods sold their lot to coca-cola. A wedge in an ever-growing crack between the people and their land. A river of coke, Lays potato chips, and powdered donuts flows throughout the tiny tiendas of Yaxhachen, and on the other side of the river is a bed of knowledge on how to healthfully live off of the land.

Ko'ox Boon intern Alex Melnick figured she should give herself a little shoutout

Ko'ox Boon intern Alex Melnick figured she should give herself a little shoutout

I love Jackson almost as much as I love interning for Ko’ox Boon. (Who is this “I,” you ask? Read on. Even if you don’t particularly care who this “I” is, read on. I promise it’ll be worth it.

Ken Seligson: Archeartist or Arteologist?

me1For work, Ken Seligson never arrives late. He's an archaeologist from Port Washington, New York, currently funded by the National Science Foundation. He packs his bag with extra empanadas to share with his crew of eight, deep within the jungle's briar-filled thickets. The head of his crew goes by the nickname "Huech," which translates to armadillo, and which also means that Ken is captain of the armadillos (cue the image of an animated bug movie). Trekking through the expanses of Kaxil Kiuic, Seligson searches for something that can help him better imagine the lives of the ancient Maya, and, sometimes, that means that he has to be creative. From the field, he's brought back to the laboratory rocks "shaped like spoons" and he famously considers any rock with a hole significant. Albeit, these conclusions are made jokingly, it is Seligson's tendency towards imagination that settles his colleagues and makes him the most popular dinner companion at Kiuic. Seligson's artistic endeavors might be most aptly described by the literary term "magical realism." Human-like characters swing through the vines of Seligson's artwork, engaging in lifelike activities or stretching into new forms. This technique renders from adults what Dr. Seuss does for children. The viewer feels capable, and the artwork asks us to stop, take our time, and decode the multi-dimensional meanings embedded within the puzzle. This Marquesian fantasma associates humanity with possibility--feet with flying. Time collapses as historical figures interact with those from the future, and animals wear the faces of humans. These juxtapositions recur fleetingly, as they suggest that we are not tied to a singular existence, rather, freedom exists in the eye of the imagination.



Without further ado, the interview:

The ultimate travel destination: One day I’d really like to spend some time in a small town on an isolated island somewhere, get the feeling of living at the edge of the world…maybe in the Azores or Shetland Islands.

 If you could have one super power... Not too creative in this respect, I’m afraid: to be able to fly would be the best (especially considering the opportunities it would open to travel).

 Your favorite art project as a kid: Aside from a general enthusiasm for painting with acrylics, I really liked building a tower out of toothpicks and tiny marshmallows in my 3rd Grade art class.

Beer or wine? Depends on the time, depends on the place.

Name one experience that impacted you tangibly to become who you are today. It wasn’t one single experience, but as a result of having the opportunity to visit a number of amazing Mesoamerican archaeological sites as a kid I developed a deep curiosity about the world of our ancestors and an appreciation for trying to understand contemporary Western civilization within the broader context of human ‘history.’

 If you were to anamorph… I would anamorph into a bird of some sort.

What triggers your “aha” moment? Usually conversations with friends, often over a pitcher of beer.

 Immediately when waking up in the morning, you... Try to get out of bed as quickly as possible, otherwise I’m doomed.

Who is your greatest role model/person that you would like to emulate? If I grow up, I would like to be the Derek Jeter of Mesoamerican archaeology.

What are some of the things happening in Yucatan that interest you as an artist? It’s too bad that a lot of small town markets are producing crafts specifically tailored for tourist consumption, but once in awhile you’ll still find a local artist in a small town producing art for the sake of making something beautiful and/or honoring ancestral traditions. When you come across something like that, it’s inspiring on multiple levels. It’s Ko’ox Boon’s support and recognition of the importance of indigenous, small-town community art that really makes me proud to contribute.

For you, what does the 50//50 project mean? For me the 50//50 project means the opportunity to connect with other artists and art consumers and help foster a greater appreciation for art and creativity that transcends boundaries – social, international, or what have you.

If I could could, I would I'd like to think I would.


Ken has worked with Ko'ox Boon in the past as a volunteer in Yaxhachen and as a media designer. And now, with a big hug, we welcome Ken to the 50//50 project. On December 11, you'll have the opportunity to buy a Seligson original! For more information on Ken's art, visit his deviantart.com account, where  he posts under the name "Sakbe," or email him at kenneth.seligson@gmail.com.

How to: peace flags

DSC_0396 (1) Making peace flags was one of our most successful crafts in Yaxhachen this summer. Granted, the little ones can be a little difficult to organize, but after the first day, the routine was a breeze. If you’re not familiar with the peace flag, they come from an ancient tradition of Tibet. Traditionally, “prayer flags” hang throughout the Himalayas and are filled with symbolism. The different colors represent the five elements: Blue, sky; white, air; red, fire; green, water; and yellow, earth. The flags are loaded with text and image, which seek to bring around good fortune.

In our project, the peace flag maintains its ability to be symbolic, but each one might represent something different.



STEP 1: Encourage your students to discuss what they want their flags to represent, whether it be hopes and dreams for the future, or a celebration of friendship. Whatever they come up with will be great. :)

STEP 2: Have your students cut out their flags. Use a flat edge to draw the triangles on the paper first.

STEP 3: Create an image (and text) for your flag. Remember the point goes down! Instructors or supervisors MUST make a flag too.

STEP 4: ADD MORE! Due to growing up in fast-paced environments, kids sometimes have trouble sitting with a craft and adding detail. Or, they want “otra oja”--a new paper. Encourage your students to go back and add color or figures. Tell them to fill up the triangle. Reward them with positive affirmation. Notice what they changed when they return to show you their revisions!

STEP 5: Practice the order of you flag. After everyone completes their individual flag, practice what they will look like when they are all put together. Think about the order like a puzzle. How do they look best? Why?

STEP 6: Punch two holes into the top of each flag. I like to appoint a “Captain” for overseeing this step.

STEP 7: String them up! Keep the order in mind, and have everyone help thread the flags. The string can get long, and it takes a lot of little hands to hold it up and keep it organized!

STEP 8: HANG YOUR PEACE FLAGS. In order to maximize your impact, hang them in a public space. Or use them as decoration for an event.

STEP 9: Talk about it. How does the result embody the ideas that the artists wanted to convey in the beginning? Are there additional ideas that they hadn’t thought of?

SIGN UP AND WE WILL SEND YOU THE PEACE FLAG PACKET. Classroom teachers and groups of 15 or more can qualify to receive a packet in the mail with materials, instructions, and a treat for your class. The trick is: You make two! Keep one for your school, classroom, or public space, and send one back to us (plus a photo, obviously). Email us at kooxboon@gmail.com!