Launch of STEAM Innovation Lab at Local Taos School

We are excited to announce that the launch of a STEAM Innovation Lab at the Taos Integrated School of the Arts in Taos, New Mexico is underway. STEMarts Lab founder, Agnes Chavez, is working with Richard Greywolf and Megan Avina Bowers to design a STEAM Lab that will launch TISA students and teachers into the 21st century.

The Lab will be based on the STEMarts Lab model developed in 2009 and which has been implemented through multiple platforms, from new media art festivals such as ISEA2012 Machine Wilderness and The Paseo, to national and international science events, such as the Los Alamos STEM Challenge and the ATLAS@CERN Projecting Particles project.

For the past three years TISA has participated in the STEMarts Lab youth program@The Paseo Youth program where students have gotten a taste of this unique STEAM approach. They experience cutting edge technologies and science through the lens of  new media artists, and collaborate with the artist to create participatory art for Taos’ exciting new festival, The Paseo.  In 2015, NY based artist, CHiKA, engaged students in a video mapping marathon that was part of the festival and this year students worked with The Illuminator, an art collective that works with light projections as a means of political expression, environmental transformation, and public discourse. We will integrate an ongoing series of Projecting Particles workshops in collaboration with ATLAS@CERN that will keep students abreast of the latest discoveries in particle physics, and through art, better understand how these discoveries expand our understanding of who we are and our place in the universe.

We have partnered with TWIRL to integrate their exciting STEAM activities, and are looking forward to collaborating with other emerging Maker spaces and activities to create a community-focused laboratory for exploration. The STEAM Innovation Lab at TISA will continue to offer these unique interdisciplinary collaborations but will also provide teachers with year long opportunities to learn about and integrate cutting edge technologies into their own curriculum topics.

Some unique features of the Lab include, A 21st Century Materials and Resource Library, a multi-functional space that allows for multiple intelligence exploration,  and a VR biofeedback room that focuses on social emotional intelligence. The TISA STEAM Lab will have  a strong emphasis on science concepts, creativity and innovation,  personal reflection and growth, and social practice as the foundation to all technological explorations.  For more information contact



Projecting Particles poster session at ICHEP

The Projecting Particles project was presented as a poster session at the 38th International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP). The presenter was Dr. Luis Flores Castillo, the physicist who was part of the Projecting Particles team invited to the Havana Biennial 2015.


Origination Point Installation at The Harwood Museum

Current exhibit

February 12- May 1, 2016

Origination Point is a generative interactive projection installation originally exhibited at the 12th Havana Biennial in Havana, Cuba as part of the collective exhibit Entre, Dentro, Fuera/Between, Inside, Outside.

As part of Agnes Chavez’s Projecting Particles series and inspired by her research stay at ATLAS@CERN in Geneva Switzerland, this work explores new concepts about space, our origins in the universe and how matter was created after the big bang through the newly discovered Higgs field. In Origination Point, Chavez contemplates humanity’s shared subatomic origins in relation to her Cuban-American origins to express that we are more than the physical bodies and socio-cultural identities we construct.

Through a collaboration with artist Marcel Schwittlick, who programmed the code, Origination Point features images of self-generating ‘rocks’ that are transformed in real time exploring the evolution of matter and our wave/particle duality. The images are projected onto a wall of hanging fabric strips creating mesmerizing movements in rhythm with an interactive soundtrack. The interactive composition designed and programmed by sound designer Robert Schirmer includes sounds from NASA’s field recordings of outer space accompanied by terrestrial nature sounds. Through an interactive sensor the visitor moves rocks in and out of a circle on the ground. This process adds layers of water, space and earth sounds designed to shift one’s perception and emotional response to the projected visuals.

Agnes Chavez is a new media artist based in Taos, New Mexico. Inspired by particle physics, nature and technology, Chavez experiments with data visualization, sound and projection art to create participatory environments.

Marcel Schwittlick is a visual artist living in Berlin, Germany examining new possibilities of modern technology. He is interested in digital culture and its inclinations on society and is working in strong connection to various fields in the arts, forging a connection between physical and digital media.

Robert Schirmer is a sound designer and musician living in Berlin,Germany. His approach to sound and music is driven by improvisation and reduction. He’s often using field recordings and home-grown foley recordings.

Exploring Netlogo with Youth Coding Team


STEMarts LAB Projecting Particles coding team sponsored by ATLAS Experimet at CERN, in partnership with Tracy Gallighan at Taos High School. The team has designed and built a unique projection mapping station for the Invent Event. April 23 12-5m at Enos Garcia Elementary.

We are exploring Netlogo, ‘a programmable modeling environment for simulating natural and social phenomena. NetLogo is particularly well suited for modeling complex systems developing over time. Modelers can give instructions to hundreds or thousands of “agents” all operating independently. This makes it possible to explore the connection between the micro-level behavior of individuals and the macro-level patterns that emerge from their interaction. ‘

I played with this code a little during my residency November 2016 at Santa Fe Art Institute. I am collecting real-time migration data of immigrants and refugees video mapping their movements on to structures inspired by power lines connecting across the landscape. The above images are from the prototype for a large scale “cube” installation. I am exploring  agent-based modeling for the data visualization.

ATLAS at CERN + The Harwood Museum expand Physics and Art at Taos High School

ATLAS at CERN partners  with Agnes Chavez, Quarknet and The Harwood Museum to bring a unique physics + art opportunity to Taos High School students. This event is sponsored by ATLAS Experiment, The Harwood Museum and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Special thanks to Carla Chavez, Biology teacher at Taos High School and Megan Avina Bowers, teacher at Taos Integrated School of the Arts (TISA). On March 18 and 19, students  participated in the International Masterclass to delve into particle physics as a kick off to the 3-day Teen-Led Projecting Particles workshop.  The week long event culminated with students coordinating and documenting a physics-inspired projection. They then presented on their experience as part of an Artist Talk at The Harwood Museum, which showed  the physics-inspired installation, Origination Point, by Agnes Chavez, Marcel Schwittlick and Robert Schirmer. In addition, lead students visited TISA to do a presentation to younger students sharing what they learned about art and physics.

What is the International Masterclass?

From the CERN website, ‘Each year in spring, research institutes and universities around the world invite students and their teachers for a day-long program to experience life at the forefront of basic research. These International Masterclasses (link is external) give students the opportunity to be particle physicists for a day by analysing real data from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC). This year’s edition will attract more than 10,000 high-school students from 40 countries, celebrating the 10th edition of the initiative.  As part of this workshop, Taos was conferenced in with students from Medellin, Colombia, Santiago, Chile and Notre Dame, London to compare the results of their investigations.

The Visiting Guest Teachers

Michael Wadness, a high school physics teacher from Medford High School near Boston with a doctorate in science education, lead the exciting International Masterclass at Taos High School on March 18,19.

Sally Seidel is a professor of physics at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of New Mexico and presently works on the ATLAS experiment in high energy physics. Sally came from Albuquerque on March 19 to do a presentation and lead a discussion with students on particle physics concepts and ATLAS.

About the Sci-Art integration

After a two day immersion with experts in particle physics, students began the exploration of projection art as a medium of expression and communication. The three-day workshop March 22-24 was led by three teens that participated in the workshop in December 2015. They lead a group of new students to explore a projection art iPad tool called Tagtool. Together they will storyboard, design and document a live projection on to a building inspired by the physics concepts. Special thanks to Markus Dorninger, collaborating partner and developer of the Tagtool app.

Learning by Teaching

During the workshop students presented a PowerPoint to share their experiences as part of an Artist Talk at The Harwood Museum  along with artist/facilitator, Agnes Chavez. Students visited Taos Integrated School of the Arts (TISA) and presented to over 70 students from different classrooms. They shared what they learned about particle physics and how it informed their art. These new additions to the Projecting Particles workshop deepened the students understanding of  the physics concepts and developed valuable leadership and communication skills.


January 23, 2016 21st Century Resources, Arts



Online Articles and Sites

UNM plays key role in search for Higgs Boson

Theories of the Brane: Lisa Randall

Einstein Online-physics Dictionary

Guian Guidice, Theoretical physicist, TEDx on Higgs field

CERN education for students and educators

TEDx@CERN Video Topics

Extra Dimensions, gravitons and tiny black holes

Dark Matter


Experiments at CERN


Massive: The Higgs Boson and the Greatest Hunt in Science

Warped Passages: Lisa Randall


Virtual Modeling of Particle Accelerator

Event Images of Higgs

Cern OpenData Resources

CMS Tiime-Lapse of Particle Detector (imagine camera obscura)

 Educational videos

Understanding the Higgs Field Concept– Nice visuals and effects make the concepts easy to understand. Filmed before the Higgs was discovered but still good for understanding basic concepts.

Peter Higgs- Particle man– A fun interview and documentary about Higgs and what it all means.

The God Particle with Brian Greene– Entertaining and comprehensive overview.

The Invisible Reality– Brien Greene, The World Science Festival. Greene is the absolute best at explaining the concepts with humor and clarity.

The Fabric of the Universe– Part 1/4, Host Brien Greene

Spacetime Explorer– An interactive museum installation that visualizes the interplay between spacetime and matter to learn astrophysics concepts.

Art Essays

ISEA2012 Machine Wilderness: Special Media-N edition, v.09 n.03, November, 2013. Essay written by Agnes Chavez and Anita McKeown on the ISEA2012 educational focus of art, science and nature.

Art meets Science meets Education

June 26, 2015 Arts



Ars Electronica-style festivals to artists in residence programmes at scientific organisations, “art meets science” is a term that just keeps on trending. ATLAS visiting artist Agnes Chavez has taken a fresh look at the merging of the disciplines, adding a new one to the mix: “Art meets Science meets Education”. “..agnes chavez CERN ATLAS projecting particles by Katarina Anthony in the CERN Bulletin.

Thanks to ATLAS at CERN for sponsorship of Dr. Luis Flores Castillo as physics instructor in the Projecting Particles workshop at the Havana Biennial 2015. Special thanks to Dr. Steve Goldfarb and Kate Shaw for facilitating the residency and the sponsorship that made it all possible.

Timelapse clip of Origination Point

June 26, 2015 Arts

Origination Point, the interactive projection installation, was part of the collective exhibit “Entre, Dentro, Fuera/Between, Inside, Outside” at the 12th Havana Biennial in Havana Cuba.

Artists: Agnes Chavez (artist/concept), Marcel Schwittlick
(visual artist/coder), Robert Schirmer (intercative sound)
UNM Art Graduate Student assistants: Abbey Hepner,
Christine Posner, Julianne Aguilar, Adrian Pijoan

Interactive projection installation
Written in OpenFrameworks and Max MSP

A projection of self-generating “rocks” (a visual metaphor
for the particle nature of matter) are transformed through
mesmerizing movements in rhythm with an interactive
soundtrack (representing the wave nature of matter).
Audio was created with sounds recorded by NASA from
outer space and with real nature sounds. To interact with
the piece, move the three “rocks” in and out of the circle
on the floor, adding layers of sound designed to shift
your perception of and emotional response to the

“In this piece I contemplate both my origins as a Cuban
American and humanity’s shared ‘subatomic’ origins to
express that we are more than the physical bodies and
socio-cultural identities we construct.”

Origination Point

June 13, 2015 Arts

Origination Point, the interactive projection installation, was part of the collective exhibit “Entre, Dentro, Fuera/Between, Inside, Outside” at the 12th Havana Biennial in Havana Cuba. The concept began to brew in December after I received the invitation from curator, Dannys Montes de Oca. I decided on the series I was currently exploring called Projecting Particles that involved doing a 2-week research stay at CERN in Geneva Switzerland. The question I was exploring in the residency was how can these understandings of space and the origins of matter transform the way we perceive the world around us and more specifically, as artists how we visualize and create. As the concept evolved so did the collaboration of individuals that came together to design and realize the installation for the inauguration on May 22, 2015 at the Pabellon Cuba. Visual artist and coder, Marcel Schwittlick, who designed the generative code, sound designer, Robert Schirmer who engineered fantastical sounds for the interactive rocks, and my graduate student assistants from the University of New Mexico Fine Arts Department, Abbey Hepner, Julianne Aguilar and Adrian Pijoan, with Cristine Posner taking the lead. They were magicians when it came to installing the piece on site in Cuba. Thanks to all of you!

The piece is a projection of self-generating “rocks” (a visual metaphor for the particle nature of matter)  transformed through
mesmerizing movements in rhythm with an interactive soundtrack (representing the wave nature of matter). Audio was created with sounds recorded by NASA from outer space and with real nature sounds. To interact with the piece, participants move the three “rocks” in and out of the circle on the floor, adding layers of sound designed to shift your perception of and emotional response to the visuals.

In response to the theme of the exhibit, Entre, Dentro, Fuera/Between, Inside, Outside”,  I contemplate both my origins as a Cuban American and humanity’s shared ‘subatomic’ origins to express that we are more than the physical bodies and socio-cultural identities we construct.

Impressions of Havana

June 12, 2015 Arts


Lorraine Monteagut, contributing blogger

It’s been a couple weeks since we’ve returned from Havana, and still we are processing all the rich interactions in our short time there. I had the opportunity to take a broad perspective of the Biennial, as I observed the pARTicles team set up and inaugurate their installation, and I also spent much time walking the streets of Havana on my own.

As a Cuban American, I felt both like an insider and an outsider. I had easy conversations with the many strangers who approached me and made a few friends who showed me around. We talked about our shared culture and our hopes for the future of U.S.-Cuba relations. We shared photos of our families. And still, it was clear that there was much we could never share, that I was outside their experience and always would be, as their political and economic situation is like none other in the world.

To keep with the spirit of the exhibit’s theme–“Between, Inside, Outside”–I’ll share three of the many interactions I had in my ten days in Havana that illustrate the shifting nature of place and identity I felt as I “returned” to a homeland I’d never physically known.

An Impromptu Guide

Many Cubans take to the streets in hopes of meeting tourists to escort around town. They are sometimes tipped by establishments for bringing in tourist business. I didn’t know any of this when I ran into this man while making my way toward Old Havana on the Malecon. He asked me where I was from (the typical first line to getting a tourist’s attention), and when I started speaking spanish, he asked me where I was “really” from. This would become the model of questioning over the following week. My place of birth marked me as an American, yet my language linked me to this country that was at once alien and familiar.

My impromptu guide redirected me to interior streets that would take me through Centro Havana, where I could find nice cigars, and ultimately to my destination in Old Havana. As we walked, he showed me a faded photo of his daughter and told me about the ration cards (the “libretas”) that provided each Cuban with items such as rice, beans and bread for the month (I’d later see these ration cards in person, people lining city blocks for their daily bread).

My guide said it wasn’t enough, that they could get more ration cards if they brought business in, and he asked me if I’d go with him to one such establishment where cigar “cooperatives” were selling top cigars at half price, for just this one day. At this point, my spidey sense went off, as I’d heard of such schemes when preparing for my trip. I felt conflicted, because this man was both sincere and wiley–one of the many paradoxes I found in Havana. I realized that as friendly as he was, as much as we connected with the language, I was still a tourist to him. I declined and excused myself, opting to take my chances on my own.

A Forthcoming Taxi Driver


As a Floridian, I’m no stranger to beautiful coastlines, so I almost passed on the beach trip. I’m glad I didn’t, as I met a lovely cab driver named Usmael, who dropped me off at Santa Maria del Mar, one of the closest beaches to Havana. On the way there, he talked freely about the changes happening and his hopes for the future of his family. He said he would like to see his sister and father again one day, who escaped to Florida years ago. He helped me distinguish between police and military, pointed out the propaganda on the streets, and showed me the spot on the beach where his friends attempted to escape, most of whom drowned or were caught. He was nice enough to schedule a time to pick me up, since I’d probably have to wait long for a ride back, but he made me promise I wouldn’t leave him stranded. When I got back into his backseat, rosy and sandy, he glanced at the bottle of Anejo in the crook of my arm. “Make sure you hide that when you get back out. You have the face of a child.”

A Hospitable Family


One of the highlights of my trip was my stint as a translator for a German-American architect who was interested in a recent renovation in Old Havana. We met with the Cuban man who acted as an informal project manager, the go-between for Swiss investors and the Office of the City Historian, run by Eusebio Leal, who is in charge of historical preservation. We were invited into the apartment homes of one of the families impacted by this renovation. The matriarch of the family was supremely hospitable, ushering us in to sit and chat. Her daughters were home and equally friendly. One, a 27-year-old and a new mother, told me how grateful she was for their new home, which now housed three generations of her family.

The renovation took decades to complete (our guide said he often had to take things into his own hands in order to get them done, as the government would have had them wait even longer). When the renovation began, the daughters were young girls. They were relocated to mass housing outside the city center in the meantime, and their future was uncertain. Now, their own children can enjoy a stable home all their lives. I asked the daughter if she ever thought about leaving Havana, and she said she would never dream of it. She heard that people in the United States worked too much and weren’t as inclined to come together and help each other.

I couldn’t argue with her there.

Indeed, I felt an immediate contradiction between the joy and drive of the Cuban people and the hard conditions of their lives. At any given time, I couldn’t tell if I was in heaven or in hell. Some parts of town look like living ruins, people living en masse in crumbling homes. Yet the Cuban people are welcoming and full of life, making the best of everything. I did not feel a hint of despair. I couldn’t help comparing Havana to my home in Florida, where I know many people who feel stuck in their jobs, who struggle to keep a level of material wealth they aren’t sure they want or need, who rely on prescription medication to fight back depression and stagnation every day.

As I look to the future of Cuba-U.S. relations, I wonder just how Cuba will change, and I wonder which way is better. I think the answer rests somewhere in between our worlds…

Lorraine Monteagut is a Ph.D. candidate in Communication at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Follow her summer travels: