On May 24, 2018 one winner in the general category, three career achievement awardees, and one emerging promoter of peace awardee were honored at the Paul Ré Peace Prize reception, on The University of New Mexico’s (UNM) main campus in Albuquerque, NM. The reception was held in the Willard Reading Room in Zimmerman Library.
In a biennial cycle, the Peace Prize is given to UNM students, faculty, staff members, alumni, or retirees who promote peace, harmony, and understanding among people of the world. In announcing the 2018 roster of awardees, chair of the Peace Prize selection committee, Susan Morrison, said, “We always have excellent nominees and it is a pleasure and privilege to interact with them.”
The winner of the 2018 Peace Prize in the general category is Dana Tai Soon Burgess for his work as an acclaimed choreographer, performance artist, and cultural figure. Burgess, a UNM alumnus, serves as a cultural envoy for the U.S. State Department as the first choreographer-in-residence at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. He founded the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company in 1992, and it has become the preeminent modern dance company in the Washington, D.C. region. Burgess promotes peace and harmony through his art form of dance and his beautiful, innovative choreography. For 25 years, he has worked on projects across the globe as a teacher and a performer engaging audiences and forming friendships around the world. He believes that finding connections between cultures and artists is a key to peace and diplomacy.
Three career achievement awardees were also named. Hakim Bellamy, who resides in Albuquerque, is a national and regional Poetry Slam Champion. Bellamy earned a Master of Arts in Communications from UNM and was made Albuquerque’s first Poet Laureate in 2012. Among other honors, Bellamy was named a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellow, a Kennedy Center Fellow, and “Best Poet” in the Weekly Alibi’s Best of Burque poll every year since 2010. He was also awarded the Food Justice Residency at Santa Fe Art Institute and is founding president of Beyond Poetry LLC. Bellamy also facilitates writing workshops in schools, churches, prisons, and community organizations.
A Career Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Anthony Fleg, founder and leader of Running Medicine. Fleg is a faculty member at UNM’s Department of Family and Community Medicine and founder of the Native Health Initiative (NHI) which includes Running Medicine (RM) among other programs. His work welcomes diverse people and organizations in the promotion of health and wellbeing, while nurturing understanding of others. He provides high quality individualized coaching and also works to save the environment and promote sustainability. He received the 2016 Community Leadership Award from the President’s Council on Sports, Nutrition, and Fitness.
The third Career Achievement Award was presented to flamenco dancer and choreographer, Bridgit Luján, an alumna of UNM. As founder of Dulce Flamenco Internacional, Luján has sought to share flamenco in its purest form with communities throughout the U.S. and beyond. Her goal is to bring the deeper meaning and tradition to audiences and students so they can experience the social healing benefits flamenco provides to people experiencing marginalization at any level. Luján’s work in dance has been recognized with numerous awards, including: 2016 Young Alumni Hall of Fame from UNM’s Anderson School for Management; 2016 Inspirational Young Alumnus Award from UNM Alumni Association; 2017 Dance Teacher Award in Higher Education from Dance Teacher Magazine; and a NM True Heroes Finalist for her work with underserved populations of New Mexico, including those with Down Syndrome.
An Emerging Promoter of Peace Award was presented to artist Jami Porter Lara, a UNM alumna. Porter Lara uses a 2000-year-old ceramic process to make objects that resemble a ubiquitous icon of modern life—the plastic bottle. Inspired by water bottles left by people crossing remote stretches of the U.S./Mexico border, her work re-conceptualizes the plastic bottle as a precious object capable of sustaining human life, and exposes the porous nature of “borders,” as well as the “nature” of art and pollution. Porter Lara has been featured in Art 21, Hyperallergic, and on PBS. Her recent museum exhibitions include the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
Other nominees included past awardees William M. Brown III, Denise Elia Chávez, and the team of Lynne Jackson and Mike Palter. Also nominated were Nancy Jackson and John Fennelly.
Members of the selection committee included Susan Morrison, J.D., CFP focusing on sustainability and a member of the committee since 2006; Lynn Billings, J.D., mediator; Leslie Donovan, Ph.D. Professor, UNM Honors College; and Fred Shair, a longtime Caltech Professor. Prize sponsor and originator, Paul Ré, who serves as advisor to the selection committee, noted, “The 2018 awardees demonstrate how UNM affiliates are having a profound, harmonizing influence from locally to globally. They have accomplished this in diverse disciplines while nurturing both inner and outer peace.”
Paul Ré is recognized internationally for promoting world peace and harmony through his transcendent art. For more information about the Peace Prize and Ré’s almost five decades of creating serene and elevating art, please see his acclaimed volume The Dance of the Pencil and his latest, award-winning volume Art, Peace and Transcendence: Réograms that Elevate and Unite available from UNM Press. More insights can be found at www.paulre.org.