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UTEP Arts Alive is an interdisciplinary collaboration showcasing the diversity and vibrancy of the arts in the face of a global pandemic. The project highlights ongoing artistic activities by UTEP students, faculty and alumni from a wide range of departments and provides a virtual connection to iconic campus locations for those who cannot physically be present. Pre-recorded videos will be launched at noon on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from September 14th- October 9th culminating in a series of five Facebook live events during homecoming week (October 12-17th) with small socially distanced audiences as situations permit. The videos will feature musicians, artists, actors and dancers, as well as writers, historians and other intellectual voices, speaking and performing from easily recognizable locations from across the UTEP campus. Each pre-recorded video will be 5-10 minutes in length, and can be enjoyed during an afternoon break as a way to reconnect with arts, culture and the UTEP campus itself. The videos will be broadcast across the social media platforms of the sponsoring units as well as collected as an archive here on the Liberal Arts website.


UTEP Arts Alive is a collaboration between Rubin Center for the Visual Arts, Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, El Paso Pro-Musica/UTEP Center for Arts Entrepreneurship, UTEP Department of Music, and UTEP Department of Art. Produced by UTEP Edgar Picazo-Merino, BA Interdisciplinary Studies and editor of Azul Arena magazine; and Chris Beroes-Haigis, alumnus of UTEP Department of Music graduate program and member of the Center for Arts Entrepreneurship.

Dr. Elvira Carrizal-Dukes at Graham Hall


Dr. Elvira Carrizal-Dukes is the author for DUKEScomics. She was born and raised in the Chaparral-El Paso-Juárez borderland region where she wrote the A.W.O.L. graphic novel featuring a Latina soldier on unauthorized leave from the military. She is searching for her kidnapped brother in the El Paso, Texas, Mexico/US border city. Much of Dr. Carrizal-Dukes’ work is centered around her hometown and the socio/cultural/historical contexts of this major U.S.-Mexico transnational space.

She earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Rhetoric and Composition from The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film from Columbia University in the City of New York, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in Journalism and Chicano Studies and a minor in Theatre Arts. Dr. Carrizal-Dukes is also the author of a new graphic novel called Dukes of Chuco (DUKEScomics, forthcoming 2020). She is also a published playwright of a dramatic play called Father’s Shadow / Sombra del Padre (Dramatic Publishing, 2001) winner of the Kennedy Center/ American College Theatre Festival Si TV Playwriting Award and Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Fellowship. Other produced plays written by her include Escaping Juarez, P.I.G. (Pimps, Illegals, Gangsters), Silencio No Mas, and Border Ballad Twinkle Toe Patrol: A Chicanx Musical. Dr. Carrizal-Dukes is a filmmaker and the writer, director, and producer of Mariposa (2006) and The Weeping Pimp (2015).

Together with Ronnie Dukes, she teaches the Zines, Comic Books + Superheroes workshop at El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA) in El Paso, Texas. She is the selected Community Member for EPMA’s National Medal Award for excellence in museum service. She also teaches filmmaking workshops and has presented lectures for the El Paso Museum of History. Dr. Carrizal-Dukes is an Assistant Professor of Practice and Undergraduate Academic Adviser for Chicana/o Studies at UTEP. She teaches Chicana/o Cinema and Theatre, American Cinema of the US-Mexico Border, and The Roots of Latina/o Hip Hop. She has also taught Chicano/Latino Music in the U.S., Contemporary Hispanic Theatre and Drama, Technical Communication, Cinematic Genres, Screenwriting, Cinematic Directors, Film Theory and Criticism, and Feature Film Production – a Special Topics course. Previously, she was a Tenured Assistant Professor at El Paso Community College where she taught film, video, and media courses.

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Valerie Santos outside the Physical Science Building


When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many theaters around the world began to wonder what would happen. The Department of Theatre & Dance at UTEP is being creative and continuing to create opportunities for students to learn to adapt. The play, Into the Beautiful North, ​written by Karen Zacarías, directed by Melissa Crespo, based on the novel by Luis Alberto Urréa​, and designed by UTEP students will be a unique online performance as part of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read program. Copies of the book will be available all over El Paso and programming will begin Oct. 2.

Following Valerie's reading of a short excerpt from Chapter 7 of the book by Luis Alberto Urréa, we are happy to share with everyone a few previews of the amazing work UTEP Theatre Department students are contributing to the sound, lighting, set and costume design of this exciting project. These full behind the scenes videos will be available on the Theatre Department webpage at the beginning of next month. UTEP Miners, keep creating in quarantine!

Noraya Ccoyure at The Rubin Center


Noraya Ccoyure earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Literature from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos with an emphasis on Peruvian poetry from the 60’s. She has published two collection of poems: Río Blanco and Criadero. She is currently enrolled in the Creative Writing Master’s at the University of Texas at El Paso. She is also the founder and active member of the independent theatre company Llaqta. For UTEP Arts Alive, Noraya performed “Postes Amarillos”, recorded inside the Rubin Center, with images from the campus at night.

Dr. Steve Wilson at Centennial Plaza


Chairman of the UTEP Music Department and trombonist Dr. Steve Wilson performs overlooking Centennial Plaza.

Tom Birkner at Fox Fine Arts Plaza


Tom Birkner is a painting professor at UTEP. For this video, he put together a project for his painting class focused on abstract expressionism. The class met outside the Fox Fine Arts building, where they painted in a free way by splashing paint on small and large canvases. Mr. Brikner also explains, from his studio at the university, how the changes brought by COVID-19 can be used as an advantage in the development of the students. The song in the video is by UTEP alumnus Andrés Ortiz and is titled “Yo Soy".

Nancy Green at The Chihuahuan Desert Gardens


Nancy Lorenza Green, M. Ed. is a bilingual teaching and performing artist. A writer, musician, and photographer, Nancy's vision as an Afro-Chicana from the border region offers a unique perspective grounded on the spiritual values. For UTEP Arts Alive, she plays the drum at the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens with a 6/8 rhythm that originates West Africa, performs a poem called “Awakening/Despertar” of her collection Reflections of Time, and finishes with a song called “Alfonso’s Dream”, which she wrote and is performed on an ocarina.

Jess Tolbert at UTEP Metal Studio


Jess Tolbert is assistant professor in the Department of Art and head of the Jewelry and Metals Program. For this episode of UTEP Arts Alive, she invites us to her metal’s studio located in the Fox Fine Arts, where she is working on an initiative called The Hand Metal Project, a global metalsmith effort to honor health professionals during the pandemic. The hands, made by her students, will be given out in November 8th within the El Paso and Juárez region.

Zuill Bailey at UTEP Lhakhang


Zuill Bailey, widely considered one of the premiere cellists in the world, is a distinguished soloist, recitalist, and teacher. He is the Artistic Director for the Center for Arts Entrepreneurship at UTEP. For UTEP Arts Alive, Mr. Bailey performs Allemande from Suite No. 1, composed by Bach, at the Lhakhang, a temple gifted by the Bhutanese people to the university.

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