Meet Our Presenters

PechaKucha Night Santa Fe presenters Leia Barnette

Leia Barnett and Michael Berman  |  From Wildness to Wilderness and Back Again: Gila Wilderness Turns 100

Environmental advocate Leia Barnett and photographer Michael Berman pay homage to the Gila Wilderness in its centennial year in From Wildness to Wilderness and Back Again, exploring how this seminal example of preserved public land can guide us through the next 100 years of wilderness.


Born and raised in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, Leia Barnett is thrilled to bring her deep reverence for the high desert country of the Southwest to the environmental advocacy space at WildEarth Guardians. Ever intrigued by the deep interconnection between the human and the more-than-human worlds, Leia suspects that reimagining our stories from the inside out may be part of an enduring solution to some of the crises of our time. When she’s not endeavoring to understand the complexities of a successful justice-based landscape conservation campaign, Leia can be found mountain-side or river-side, praising the feathered and four-legged ones, and planning her next epic snack.

Michael P. Berman wanders the terrain of the American West and Mexico Norteño. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008, and his photographs are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum, and the Museum of New Mexico. In 2013, he was honored with the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in New Mexico. Michael’s work has been published in several books, including his most recent title, Perdido: Sierra San Luis. In 2012 The Museum of New Mexico Press published his work in Gila: Radical Visions; The Enduring Silence. Michael lives in Silver City and has continued to photograph extensively in the Gila Wilderness, the first designated wilderness in the Americas.

From Wildness to Wilderness and Back Again: A Wilderness Turns 100


On June 3rd, 2024, the Gila Wilderness in southwestern New Mexico, the world’s first capital “W” wilderness, turns 100 years old. It is remarkable that such a radical and transformative idea was accepted and enacted—a full 40 years before the Wilderness Act was passed, not long after the turn of the 19th century. Through the visionary leadership of Aldo Leopold, the United States Forest Service created the “gold standard” of landscape protection and set the country on a trajectory to reconsider what public lands were for, beyond resource extraction and industrial uses. But 100 years later, how does the idea of wilderness exist and persist in the American imagination? How are we learning to re-vision wild landscapes in a way that allows for integration of ecosystem suffering and biodiversity collapse, while also envisioning resilience and cooperative regeneration? The Gila Wilderness offers an opportunity to “see” wildness and wilderness in a new way. It allows for a dismissal of human-centered ideas of beauty, and asks us to look deeper. With the help of Michael Berman’s astute photographs of the Gila, we’ll explore how conservationists and artists alike are reimagining how we see wilderness, what makes a landscape beautiful, and why the Gila continues to teach us about the dynamic and often surprising unfolding of truly wild places.

Creative Santa Fe Treasurer Matt Smith

Matt Smith  |  Wilderness & Uncertainty

In Wilderness & Uncertainty, Matt Smith reflects on what draws us to wilderness, what happens when we get lost in the backcountry, and who comes to save us.


Raised in Montana and now residing in New Mexico, Matt Smith spends his seasons fishing, hunting, trail running, climbing and snowboarding in the backcountry. After years of wondering — “What happens when I get injured back here?” — Matt joined Atalaya Search & Rescue, a Santa Fe-based technical search and rescue team with over two decades of experience serving Northern New Mexico. When he’s not in the backcountry, Matt works as the Managing Director of MASS Design Group, an international nonprofit that leverages design to advance justice, equity, and dignity.

Matt Smith presents Uncertainty and Wilderness at PechaKucha Night Santa Fe


Our daily routines provide certainty; wilderness presents an alternative. We are drawn to wilderness for everything that our daily lives are not. But what happens when wilderness does what it’s best at? What happens when our plans don’t work out exactly as we thought?

PechaKucha Night Santa Fe presenter Kenny Mann

Kenny Mann  |  Maasai On The Edge Of The World

Author, educator, documentary filmmaker and activist Kenny Mann explores Western notions concerning “untrameled land”—wilderness—versus the notions of land use of the Maasai people of Kenya in Maasai on the Edge of the World.


Kenny Mann was born and raised in Kenya, where her parents had arrived as Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe in 1942. In 1968, she graduated from the University of Nairobi with an undergraduate degree in Zoology, Botany and Chemistry. Kenny also studied filmmaking at Bristol University, UK, and earned a Masters Degree in Education from Manhattan’s renowned Bank Street College. She has worked as a documentary film researcher, a scriptwriter, and a filmmaker. Her work as a freelance journalist has been published in many German outlets, including Die Zeit. As an educator Kenny has taught in schools in Kenya, India, and the US, where she moved in 1982.  She has developed curriculum for all age groups, authored eight books for younger readers, and made eight documentary films.

In 2019, Kenny moved from Sag Harbor, NY to Santa Fe, and in 2017, she co-founded ACACIA MOYO — WHERE TRADITION MEETS TECHNOLOGY (www.acaciamoyo.org), a non-profit which works alongside the Maasai community of Kenya to develop sustainable sources of income as an alternative or addition to pastoralism. Maasai beadworkers attended the 2019 and 2021 International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, and proceeds from sales of their beaded jewelry now support nine high school students and initiated a beekeeping/honey-making program. Kenny is the US Director of the Acacia Moyo community-based organization in Kenya.

Kenny Mann presents Maasai On the Edge of the World at PechaKucha Night Santa Fe


From the area known as Kitengela in Kenya, one can see the smoky, high-towered skyline of Nairobi in the near distance. Giraffe, lions, ostriches, zebra, warthog, antelope, and many other wildlife species roam the area, accompanied by large herds of cattle, sheep, and goats and their Maasai herders. Maasai, livestock, and wildlife have lived in symbiotic harmony for generations.

Today, this living equation is severely threatened by the encroaching city, land fragmentation, and long-standing drought. What will be left? A chaotic urban wilderness. What will be lost? An indigenous culture that knows how to survive in and preserve the wilderness while protecting wildlife. What will be gained? Nothing.

Kenny Mann reflects on Western notions concerning “untrameled land”—wilderness—versus Maasai notions of land use. Western ideas led to preservation, overuse of “empty” land, conversion to Christianity, and hence conquest of “heathens.” Maasai ideas led to environmental conservation and equilibrium, adaptation to environmental conditions, and the successful survival of a people and its natural habitat.

NMSA Student Nevaeh Galaviz will deliver a PechaKucha presentation.

Nevaeh Galaviz  |  The Wilderness of Grief

Writer Nevaeh Galaviz reflects on her recent experience with the loss of a loved one in her presentation The Wilderness of Grief.


Nevaeh Galaviz is from the small town of Taos, New Mexico. Nevaeh is a fiction writer as well as a poet. In her dedication to creative writing she has explored different genres, styles, and storytelling elements. She has been published in Dreams of Montezuma Volume 2, and in 2022 won a scholastic art and writing award for her poem about grief.

Curtain of rain falls from big rain clouds.


The Wilderness of Grief weaves the recollection of recent death of a loved one with writer Nevaeh Galaviz’s poetry.

PechaKucha Night Santa Fe presenter Roxanne Darling

Roxanne Darling  |  When Nature Calls

Artist Roxanne Darling’s images and poems are a call to feminize humanity’s presence on Mother Earth by shedding pretense, perfectionism, and pollution in their many forms in When Nature Calls.


Roxanne Darling is an emerging artist currently focused on self-portraits in the American West, which are accompanied by her poetry. Themes of self-acceptance, MeToo, and concern for our natural world weave consistently through her work. Her art, especially her black and white drawings, often includes a sense of whimsy and positivity. As a combined visual, conceptual, and literary artist, words and numbers appear in her work—as do influences from her previous careers as a marine biologist, ballet dancer, health coach, and technologist. She is agnostic regarding her tools, and has used painting, photography, film, video, and writing along with performance and construction to express her creative ideas. Her work is influenced by (and has been compared to) the work of Ana Mendieta, Anne Brigman, and Marina Abramovic. Through her work, Roxanne is calling for creative, multidisciplinary, and female-focused approaches to the problems we face as individuals as well as citizens of a struggling planet.

Roxanne Darling presents When Nature Calls at PechaKucha Night Santa Fe


Women and nature are both revered and desecrated, not only by others but by themselves, too. In When Nature Calls, Roxanne Darling explores the connection between self-care and earth-care through her images and poems, which were given to her at random, unpredictable moments while hiking in wild places. Be it consumerism, debasing things we love, waste, trash talk, and merchandising, or equating old and abused with useless, Nature is encouraging humanity to care for her as well as itself through acceptance—not faux filters or senseless standards. Roxanne’s photographs are minimally processed—undressed in their natural state like the artist herself—to encourage the human form to be in communion with the landscape. No fakery. No domination. No extraction. Only presence.

PechaKucha Night Santa Fe presenter Patrick Lysaght

Patrick Lysaght  |  Lyrical Portraits of Entropy

Photographer Patrick Lysaght’s Lyrical Portraits of Entropy is a love letter to the exquisite order that‘s hidden just below the chaotic surface in the natural world.


As Program Manager for Physical Characterization of nanoelectronic devices at SEMATECH, the consortium of the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers, Patrick Lysaght used the most advanced techniques in the world to measure the atomic bonding structure in novel materials. As a photographer and filmmaker, Patrick captures lyrical portraits of entropy—the paradox of resplendent structure spontaneously emerging in our world of increasing disorder.

In 2021, the European Circle Foundation for the Arts selected Patrick as a Featured Artist, and his series of frost photographs were featured at the 14th Venice International Art Fair. His new book, Morphology of Fleeting Structure is the subject of his award-winning documentary film, Fleeting Structure. He has served on funding panels for the New Mexico Arts Division and has taught physics at the University of New Mexico and acoustics at the College of Santa Fe. Patrick is the owner of Entropy Gallery in Santa Fe.

Patrick Lysaght presents Lyrical Portraits of Entropy at PechaKucha Night Santa Fe


In the solitude of the wilderness, photographer Patrick Lysaght has discovered an appreciation for the beauty and elegance of structures we share with the world around us. Fundamental connections between biotic and abiotic domains are unveiled through the extraordinary photographs Patrick captures in pristine wilderness. Entropy is a measure of randomness and disorder. We live in a world where everything deteriorates and brakes down, yet beautiful structures spontaneously emerge. Patrick invites us to look closer and see how exquisite structure emerges in a wilderness of increasing disorder.

PechaKucha presenter Kate Rivers

Kate Rivers  |  Mend

With Mend, artist Kate Rivers shares the personal and philosophical underpinnings of her artistic practice of stitching together paper-based “found” materials—her ritual for mending the ugly in our world and creating something beautiful.


Kate Rivers got her start as an artist early, drawing portraits of fellow passengers on the city bus when she was in junior high school. Later her drawings earned her a full scholarship at Columbus College of Art and Design and then a scholarship and fellowship at The University of South Carolina. After earning her BFA degree, she married, started a family, and began teaching art at the elementary and university level.

Making marks on paper was ingrained in her from a very early age.  During her formal studies, she searched for a medium that would allow her to incorporate the integrity of gestures and lines. She began with sculpture, then morphed to printmaking, where she discovered lithography and fell in love with handmade and organic papers.

Kate taught printmaking and drawing at the university level until retiring from a tenured position to practice art full time in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Kate Rivers presents Mended at PechaKucha Night Santa Fe


Artist Kate Rivers’s daughter was born with a skin defect due to chemicals that Kate came into contact with while practicing lithography. Learning about the unchecked chemicals that paper mills dump in our water supply, the amount of water that is required to produce paper, and the amount of waste involved in the disposal of paper products forced Kate to grapple with the ecological implications of her artistic practice.

She and her daughter have embarked together on a journey of surgeries, body image, and search for identity as a result of these revelations. Out of this struggle personal healing and new artistic visions grew. Kate shares the personal and philosophical underpinnings of her artistic practice of stitching together her paper-based “found” materials, which she views as a ritual for mending the ugly in our world and creating something beautiful.

PechaKucha Night Santa Fe presenter Gregory Waits

Gregory Waits  |  Rewilding US

Designer Gregory Waits meditates on the idea of the garden as tamed wilderness, and how it serves to connect us to our deeper selves in Rewilding US.


The pursuit of patterns to create form began at an early age for Gregory Waits. Summer trips on verdant land in Alabama were a sharp contrast to the architectural splendor of the city of Chicago. Reconciling these spatial opposites has always engendered his attention to parks, gardens, and the city’s varying density of domestic and civic buildings.

Gregory Waits received his Masters of Architecture in 2001, after being engaged in an interdisciplinary practice for the last 30 years. His choreography of movement systems employs architecture, art, fashion, and the environment to create open strategies that engage yet extend our daily rituals. Human engagement within a specified place for his studio contains a notational narrative that marks the site.  Waits seeks to align the user with an experience that maximizes interaction and reforms private and public space.

Gregory Waits presents Rewilding US at PechaKucha Night Santa Fe


Wilderness can be seen as a place of awe and beauty, of freedom, and of exhilaration, transporting and connecting us to our deeper selves within the natural world. Wilderness can take us back to our origins, and the challenges and fears it presents. Humans have sought to control this wilderness, both in our interior and exterior landscape. In domesticity we can engage in ritualized patterns that take us farther away from ourselves and others, thus alienating us from nature—from our wildness. Designer Gregory Waits examines the metaphorical and physical garden as a transformative element mediating the tension between wilderness and civility, and ultimately providing a familiar space where we feel we have a special place to play in the natural world.

NMSA Student Raven Mackey will deliver a PechaKucha presentation.

Raven Mackey  |  Wildflowers

In Wildflowers, singer/songwriter Raven Mackey takes us on a journey on why she is committed to becoming a touring musician.


Raven Mackey grew up in rural Northern New Mexico, where she raised many birds, especially turkeys. During her pre-adolescence she has discovered an intense love of music and songwriting that she brings into all aspects of her life, wearing it inside and out. She is heavily influenced by many bands and musicians, including Three Days Grace, Badflower, Bring Me The Horizon, Linkin Park, and Andy Black. In 2022, she released her first album titled, “First Of Many,” and performs her songs on the street, in the plaza, at open mics, and anywhere she can bring her guitar. 

Outside of music and school, she goes on long walks down dirt roads, learns the art of happiness and free living from dogs, and takes time to notice people and why they do the things they do. She often uses songwriting as a way to process her life experiences. Her creativity extends into drawing and sketching, which she shares on instagram with a growing following.

purple wildflowers in meadow against sunset over a mountain


Singer/songwriter Raven Mackey shares her journey from finding her love of music, to learning how to sing and play guitar, and then experimenting in the creation of original songs. In her presentation, Wildflowers, she discusses how music has given her a sense of belonging and helped her to discover her own community.