In September, we ran an article on social justice-themed art in Nevada. Since then, we’ve found a lot more in Elko, Las Vegas, and Reno. Here’s Part 1, in case if you missed it. If you know of more, please send us a link, pic, or info any time. —Kris Vagner, Editor

I don’t think in the few weeks since Part 1 we can measure much of a redistribution of wealth, privilege or opportunities in favor of BIPOC communities. Progress seems diverted by media distraction, buried in systemic abstraction.

Artists in Nevada, at the most basic level, are making this fucked up year brighter, more colorful. Their works reveal truths, and they reflect the communities they enliven.

Here are five more projects of a growing body of social justice art around Nevada.


Resiliency: A Blooming Diaspora

Curated by Brent Holmes
Artist Talk on Nevada Humanities Facebook Live Nov. 5, 7pm

This online exhibition features African American artists from Southern Nevada. It was proposed and planned over a year ago and slated to open in April. Because of the pandemic, it was pushed to October.

“Cloud Girl #20,” a painting by LaRon Emcee, is part of the online exhibition Resiliency: A Blooming Diaspora. Photo: Courtsey Nevada Humanities

“And then it became twice as relevant of an exhibition, right?” said Brent Holmes, curator. “I have so many amazing young artists in this show that have such a touchstone on the future and a way to make the world advance.”

Holmes explained that being Black in Las Vegas and Southern Nevada is different than being Black in Chicago or Los Angeles or New York or Oakland or the American South. But it isn’t for lack of identity and community. These artists tend to link the beauty of the desert environment with the resiliency it takes to thrive here as a person of color.


Shattering the Pictures in Our Heads

Deep West Filmmaking Mentorship Program – Edge of Discovery
Northeastern Nevada Museum until Jan. 31, 2021

Since 2014 the Deep West Filmmaking Mentorship Program has been working with selected students of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes from the Duck Valley Indian Reservation to produce films about the people and the places where they live. The students are paired with professional filmmakers for practical guidance. Their projects seek to break down stereotypical notions of what it is to be Native American. The films range from historical stories to sports to social issues; there is no one way to be an Indian.

Cheryl Hernandez performs a traditional Native dance as Karem Orrego films from a ladder. Photo: Courtesy Karem Orrego

“It’s amazing to see the growth of these kids in the way of expressing themselves through film,” said Karem Orrego, program director. She explained that this year they pushed their boundaries by creating a multi-screen immersive experience for audiences. The installation displays 360-degree films in addition to the 40 short films produced by the students.

This year’s mentorship team includes Lance Owyhee and Destiny Max, two graduates of the Deep West Mentorship Program.

Las Vegas Womxn of Color Arts Festival

Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art through August 2021
Lance L. Smith / In the Interest of Action
Nov. 9 – Jan. 15, 2021, Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10 am – 4 pm by appointment

The Las Vegas Womxn of Color Arts Festival was created in 2019 by a collective of artists who set out to feature culturally diverse womxn from Southern Nevada. It will also broadcast conversations between artists in ongoing events called “WOC [Womxn of color] talks.”

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The project is led by Elizabeth Nelson, a Latinx woman of Puerto Rican descent. She’s a performer, a clown and a comedian.

“I often found that I was the only woman in the room, and the only woman of color,” she said. “That misrepresents Las Vegas.” She began imagining a world with more shows that had more visibility at a higher echelon for womxn and womxn of color. She extrapolated that dream to include other art events across mediums. An arts festival was born.

The Barrick reached out in early May 2020 to develop a year-long showing in their Center Gallery. The festival featured Ashley Doughty’s multifaceted solo exhibition,  Kept to Myself, until October. Lance Smith follows in the space with an exhibition called In the Interest of Action, opening Nov. 9.

“It’s a difficult time to be a woman and to be a woman of color right now,” said Nelson. “As artists lift up the stories of now, we need to be willing to hold what’s happening. That includes joy and excitement and deep pain.”


Los Rezos de da Revolución

Ruby Barrientos
Front Door Gallery, Church Fine Arts, UNR
Through Feb. 15

Ruby Barrientos’ exhibition “Los Rezos de la Revolución” translates in English to “The Prayers of The Revolution.” Barrientos says these prayers are a call to action to stand in opposition to the inequalities created by systemic racism. The exhibition was first presented in the Holland Project satellite gallery at Café Capello. This fall it is part of the Chronic Disruptions exhibition series in the Front Door Gallery, a hallway gallery inside UNR’s Church Fine Arts building. 

Ruby Barrientos’ “Los Rezos De La Revolución” is on view in UNR’s Church Fine Arts building. Photo: Luka Starmer

Gallery director Vivian Zavataro says the Chronic Disruptions gallery validates voices of local artists in a museum environment. “It gives local artists a chance to speak up as a way to represent the local Reno community,” she said. 

“I feel as an artist I have a sense of responsibility not only to amplify my voice but other people of color,” said Barrientos. She is a founder of IGNITE, a BIPOC artivist collective in Reno creating arts and humanities opportunities for low-income communities and at-risk youth. Check them out.



Kelsey Rolling
Holland’s satellite gallery Café Capello, 248 W. 1st St., Reno
Through Nov. 2

Paintings by Kelsey Rolling that re-examine Black artists’ and entertainers’ roles in pop culture are on view at Reno’s Café Capello. Photo: Courtesy of The Holland Project

Apotheosis is a collection of bright and badass paintings of Black pop culture artists by Kelsey Rolling, currently set among the lattes and scones at Café Cappello, a satellite gallery of the Holland Project. According to Rolling’s artist statement, she wants to examine the limiting ways Black people have been portrayed in the spaces that they occupy, and where they are most widely seen—these primarily being entertainment spaces for musicians, artists, and athletes. She combines photorealism with splashy abstractness and portrays recognizable icons like Biasqiat, Lil Simz, Eve, and Tyler The Creator each with varying levels of completeness.


Posted by Luka Starmer

Luka moved to Reno from upstate New York in 2015, thinking he'd pass through for long enough to earn an MA in journalism, but Reno culture sunk its claws into him, and he's still here. He works in virtual reality research, makes videos, DJs at parties, and is good at pretty much everything.