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 

Social Media meta-analysis by @samanarama

Samantha Ledbetter served as Curator for the KB Fine Art Auction in December, 2014. She will spend her summer&nbsp;teaching advanced art &amp; bookmaking to rural Mayan youth as a part of Camp Ko'ox. She will also pursue her own creative work.&nbsp;

Samantha Ledbetter served as Curator for the KB Fine Art Auction in December, 2014. She will spend her summer teaching advanced art & bookmaking to rural Mayan youth as a part of Camp Ko'ox. She will also pursue her own creative work. 

Greetings followers of Ko'ox Boon! In preparation for KB summer camp 2015, I have been closely following all KB social media outlets. Posts grow in several varietals:

METHOD: Strap a go pro camera on to eleven year old Enrique, and give him ten minutes to take us to his favorite place in Yaxchachen centro.

ATTENTION: there are collection bins across the Millsaps College campus and in coffee shops in Fondren. Let's see who can gather the most art supplies and toothbrushes.

WATCH: your friends and professors try to pronounce "Ko'ox Boon" correctly on camera.

The short video of people pronouncing Ko'ox Boon and wondering if they were saying it correctly was charming. It did serve a practical purpose, though, reaching out to a nebulous audience in order to familiarize it with Ko'ox Boon. Viewers were left repeating the name to themselves, wondering just what Ko'ox Boon was trying to do.

Collection bins for art supplies and dental hygiene supplies spread KB's presence in our local community. The bins act as a visual clue. It easily says that Ko'ox Boon makes an art camp for children and it just so happens to encourage good health.

Enrique and the go pro is the most captivating aspect of the social media campaign. In a few minutes he pulls us through our screens and into his world. His landscape is vast, and it is beautiful. See the chickens? The murals? There is a moment when we have reached the first destination. He is showing us cows through a fence. Enrique gets off his bike, pauses to take the camera off of his body, and turns the lens toward his face. It is a long moment punctuated by the clumsy sound a microphone likes to make. Then we see Enrique smiling, asking, "isn't it beautiful?!"

Pictured outside of The Hatch in Midtown, Jackson, before her collaborative show, "Works in Retrograde." (November 2014)

Pictured outside of The Hatch in Midtown, Jackson, before her collaborative show, "Works in Retrograde." (November 2014)

It's the details that make Ko'ox Boon valuable to me. Your totally brilliant professor laughs at his pronunciation of "Ko'ox Boon." An ugly cardboard box covered in construction paper flags is asking you for art supplies in the coffee shop. For a moment you are right next to Enrique and you say, "Yes, the cows are beautiful."

I look up from these details and am back in my own world. I am learning that it is the expression of these details, these individual worlds that helps us grow, and Ko'ox Boon is facilitating that.


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.

Katelyn Gabbard: all relaxed

katie with fire

You wouldn’t guess it by looking at her. Katelyn all relaxed in her West Sixth tee and paint-stained jeans watching a documentary on Netflix. Katelyn all crazy running tree to tree. Katelyn all cool on the back porch with a coffee, ideas sparking each sip. You wouldn’t guess it, but Katelyn Gabbard wants to make a monster out of you. Yeah, and you. And that tree chunk that looks like a hip. And the iron that she can mold into whatever: broken arm, heart. The foam she can warp to look brainy, or burned.

A mixed media artist, she’ll work with anything. Anything that pumps the pulp out. The pulp. That little bit of damage that’s been done. The loose muck that sticks. Stays wedged between. Sans citrus. For Katelyn, art is freedom (to explore various realms of the self,  different media, etc.), but hers is wire-bound in the hollow dark, because she is so taken with/ disgusted by humanity. Now let’s not get too Negative Nancy, of course there are do-gooders; just look at this project: for betterment, peace, learning, sharing. But the others. Something off there. This time it's something about the teeth. (You’ll see.)

katie teeth front

katie gabbard other profile   katie gabbard teeth


One road to drive down forever/ ultimate travel destination:  Anywhere wild and free where I can be my own pioneer. Most likely in the mountains.

If you could have one super power… Time travel. Or teleportation. Salem, MA during the witch trials has always intrigued me. I’d go to that time, figure out what was really going on. Honestly, I’d probably be a witch. Go big or go home. Teleportation because I could go anywhere at any time. Go to Liverpool, watch some football, and be back in time for Netflix and dinner.

A metaphor for how you feel on Monday morning: I don’t really care about Monday mornings.

Your favorite art project as a kid: 3rd grade. Miss Gum’s class. Had to do a piece representing “movement.” Drew all these figures dancing with multi-color lights on them. She praised me on that piece and made me feel confident in my artistic abilities, which meant a lot to me. It wasn’t just mom and dad saying, “You’re so good, you’re so good, you’re so good.” 

Beer or wine? Beer. Duh. Brown ale. For the ails.

Name one experience that impacted you to become who you are today. After I completed my first wire sculpture in a University of Kentucky class in 2010, I knew. 3D was for me. I fell in love with iron pours. Pouring metal, in general. More than the art: community. I left with so many mentors and a new family that constantly pushed me to do better, instilled my current drive. Aw... I love my sculpture family...

If you were to anamorph… THE KRAKEN. UNLEASH THE KRAKEN!!! Or a dragon. I’m always the dragon. See, my nostrils do this thing where they flare... I could start as a dragon. Then, as a dragon, find my way to the ocean, and become the kraken. Really, it just depends on my mood.

What triggers your “aha” moment? Cruising on country drives with my jams.

Immediately when waking up in the morning, you… have me some coffee and a basic breakfast.

Who is your greatest role model/person that you would like to emulate? My mom. Is that a cheesy answer? She is so logical and really thinks things through. Knows how to take care of her stuff, and not lose things. Me, I’m just impulsive and can’t keep one train of thought.

What are some of the things happening in Louisville that excite you? The Tim Faulkner Gallery in Portland (the West End of town) is really amazing. It’s an old 25,000 sq. ft. warehouse converted into gallery, studio, and performance space, plus creative shops. Art lives and breathes there. And so do I.

For you, what does the 50//50 project mean? It’s a great way to broaden horizons. Within the self and amongst people. For the artists, an opportunity to make, and more importantly, contribute. For the Ko’ox Boons kids, art again, and art is therapeutic.

If you could fly, you would go so high.

katie working close upKatelyn Gabbard received her BFA in Art Studio at University of Kentucky. For the last two years, she has been an intern at Sculpture Trails in Solsberry, Indiana. Sculpture Trails is an innovate sculptor's retreat tucked away in the woods, where artists spend all day sculpting and learning new practices.

K-Tisha--we couldn't be more honored to see you join the ranks of the Ko'ox Boon 50//50 artists. Welcome to the team!

Yes please... more Claire Whitehurst

claireMeeting Claire Whitehurst is an exotic and unforeseen experience, always. Perhaps she was your counselor at summer camp or you bumped into her painting seascapes during her stint in Australia. Wherever you run into her, Claire's delicate face laughs and rummages for more jokes. The lightness of her presence draws everyone toward her, and in the dark of the hallway, your less detail-oriented friend will probably lean over and ask, "Dude, why is Amy Adams at this party?"---the likeness is uncanny.

Claire's effervescent aura is demonstrative of her creative success in the studio. For her, being an artist is a life practice. She takes lessons on forms from her surroundings, and, in her paintings, she activates the lost jewel of motion. Her self portraits tackle the serious task of being simple, honest, and unnerving, while her landscapes are nostalgic of a romantic era, when life's scenes were idyllic. In her more abstract work, she twists symbols and color in new ways, causing startling realizations based on the juxtapositions of these symbols. Color seems to imbricate emotion, and the thick strokes in her oil paintings convey sensuality in its most heated state. Claire's many years spent holding a paintbrush seem to have resulted in the bloom of a deeply mature artist, and Ko'ox Boon is  very proud to call her a 50//50 Fine Art Auction participant.







Sitting down with Claire Whitehurst:

One road to drive down forever: The Great Ocean Road

Favorite Jackson restaurant? Saigon annnnnnd High Noon! I love their half and half tea and soups.

A metaphor for how you feel on Friday afternoons: the Same way as when you can smell the seasons changing

Your favorite art projects as a kid: I liked making dioramas for stuffed animals and drawing horses.

Beer or wine? Yes please

Name one experience that impacted you tangibly to become who you are today. I remember the first time I really perceived the moon. You know... That's a ball and I'm on a ball and there are other balls out there. It freaked me out in a good way. I think about it a lot.

If you were to anamorph… Pegasus

What triggers your “aha” moment? Listening to other people and changing perspective. Coffee also helps

Immediately when waking up in the morning, you... Kick my covers around and roll up into a cocoon. Then give myself a pep talk

Who is your greatest role model/person that you would like to emulate? I have a lot of role models, but if I had to pick someone ... A mix of Amy Sedaris and Amy Poehler and Carmella Soprano. Also a lot of role models in my family.

How do you feel about the creative economy of Jackson? I think there are great steps being taken by a lot of talented and bright people. I'm glad I get to call them my friends.

For you, what does the 50//50 project mean? I think it's all about coming together and sharing cultural experiences. Connecting the community through the arts.

If you could breathe underwater, you would build a house made of glass down there.


We welcome Claire to the Ko'ox Boon team, and we look forward to sharing her art with you! You may contact Claire about information regarding her art at or visit her website at

A letter from our team

Dear friends,

Wow. We are truly giddy with excitement over what’s in our near future for Ko’ox Boon. And that’s because it’s all about YOU (um, you actually probably just got a text). Our brand new 50//50 project brings things back stateside, and asks you to break out your dusty paintbrushes and hacksaws. We want to talk to you, get involved in your process, and help you sell your art as you collaborate with our outreach program.

In December, we (along with exciting collaborators!) are hosting an art sale in Jackson, Mississippi, which embodies the mission of our organization--To cultivate artistic expression both global and local through the generation of creative economy. We want to work with you to mine your creative talents and multiply the impact of your work. The 50//50 project generates a market for your art and fundraises for our outreach project, returning 50% of the proceeds back to you, and sending 50% to pumping up the creative economies in underserved communities like Yaxhachen!

Your creative energy animates imagination.

Stay connected with us as we make big announcements regarding your involvement with the 50//50 project.

We can’t wait to paint with you,

Mandi, Allie & Phillip