STEAM Monster Challenge Winners

The Challenge was part of PASEO Party on the Plaza which took place on September 23, 2017. We received close to 500 entries from Taos County middle and high schools and youth organizations based on the work of 2017 featured Paseo artist, Motomichi Nakamura. Motomichi’s Tiny People and Giant Monster series incorporate the Monster as a mythological character to explore environmental issues. Teachers designed their own STEAM activity using our [email protected] Curriculum Tool, culminating with students inventing their own original STEAM monster exploring fear, heroism, unlikely alliances, or even humor. Submissions included drawings, animations, and poems. Motomichi selected 70 monster drawings to project onto the old theater building on the plaza for the Paseo Party on the Plaza event. UNM-Taos Digital Media Arts students projection mapped winning animations on to the old courthouse. Winning SOMOS poems were framed and displayed in the lobby of The Gorge restaurant during the event. The ESL Immigration Monster mural was hung on a wall on John Dunn Street for viewing. Use the drop-down menu to view all the entries and select STEAM workshops to see in-the-classroom photos.

Please click through the tabs below to see all of the workshops from the STEAM Monster Design Challenge!

STEAM Monster Design Challenge in the Classrooms

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Student submissions, inspired by the STEAM Monster Design Challenge

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SOMOS Young Writers Program:
Who are the Monsters In Your Life?

Thank you to all the young writers who wrote and recorded these powerful poems and short prose pieces inspired by Motomichi’s work and the theme of monsters they know.  Special thanks to Branwyn Holroyd who led the SOMOS Young Writers Program workshops to introduce youth to Motomichi’s work and to provide a spark for them to generate poetry and short prose related to his themes. In addition to concerns about climate change and the environment, the young writers were invited to reflect and expand on the concept of monsters and consider its relevance to their own experience.

Monsters Real Monsters

When I was little
I used to be afraid of a monster I
believed was living in my closet
beady glaring eyes watching me in the dark like
headlights on high beam glaring out into the night
enveloping you like a blanket of tar
I’d imagined his growl would sound like the crumbling of
a building.
Thinking about it used to make me cry
my family would always comfort me by saying that
monsters weren’t real
but then I grew up
and I still saw monsters real monsters but in
different things
I saw monsters in the sound of breaking glass
I saw monsters in the shadows of the hallway
I saw them in the needle my mother used
See when you grow up
monsters are no longer the boogey man with
sharp teeth and deadly claws
monsters are the man who came into my life
and treated me like the dolls they use in courtrooms
people who take advantage of you
as if my chest was a windshield
and his fist a baseball bat
monsters are people who have the audacity to
steal the very thing that makes your heart
flutter and tack its wings to their wall
monsters don’t need big gaping jaws to kill you
in most cases, all they need is your name
see people don’t grow out of monsters
but you can grow into them.

– Youth at DreamTree Project

A monster talks in the night

Whether real or in my head
It tells me I am useless, hated, no good
Tells me I have no place in this world
Leave get away from life for a while
I hate to admit that I am beginning to agree
That night I decide the monster is right
Going quickly
leaving only a note
I love you
It reads but I don’t know who it’s to
Running until my legs can’t carry me anymore
Then I stand on the bridge

It speaks
Jump before I make you
It is my turn to speak
Promise me one thing
Promise me you will slow down
Promise me you won’t take life away from people so quickly
Like you did to me
Just promise me that
I jump
Falling I hear the monster laughing from the bridge

– Sasha Kushner

The calm rush of a river

An abandoned apartment
The squeak of a rusty swing
A rumbling storm cloud
children’s laughter
skipping stones

They thrive off of these things
But I can’t call them monsters because they aren’t
A monster is determined by one’s actions

A monster under the bed
A kindred spirit

– Hana O’Brien Isikawa

Most Definite Misunderstanding

Most children have a bed
material gain is in many heads,
but the places we sleep are pretentious
and meek.

We cease thought of the ground
beneath our feet.

Our main interest is reaching
the top of this pyramid scheme,
wanting the knowledge of good and
evil and not the wisdom…to
know the difference.

– Robert Chavez Jr.

The nights they shut their doors were the coldest

The nights where they let it prey upon their minds were warmer. And then there were the times where the nights were fire and his soul turned to ice in recollection of the time when someone called him human. How all the fear and hate he needed to erase and sustain himself with slipped through his fingers and sometimes he wished he could be human. To live in the warm house and glance across the parlor at the girl with the sad eyes and the broken heart that could actually see him. And he knew he could erase the pain and soothe the anger and he knew that without him everyone would start to break down. It was hard to be a monster, even a good one. It was hard to be sleep. It was hard… to be time. It felt odd to say his name. Then again… it felt odd to say anything anymore.

– Ella Aquino


I am a drunk
Stumbling down the boulevard of my mind
Unsure footsteps down granite
Each inch forward cautious as it is wanted
I’m not quite sure if I’m lost
Or this is exactly what I’m looking for
I am a drunk
Only the alcohol of my choice isn’t one that can just be purchased at a market
It’s the pounding of my heart, butterflies in my stomach, dilating pupils
I can’t resist the corners of my lips curling up into a smile, almost as if they were
pulled by strings
The warm feeling I get in my chest as I feel large hands snake around my waist
Holding me as if I was the only thing keeping his feet tethered to the ground
Messy hair
Glossy eyes
We’re both drunk
But in the best kind of way
Hands craving nothing more than to touch one another
Lips colliding as if their touch was what had created the stars and galaxies themselves
Feelings running through us so fast like matches being scratched down a hearth
Creating fires strong enough to wash out hell
Two halves creating a single whole
Like the day and night working in tandem
Though each are giving you something equally beautiful
It’s feeling is completely unmatched
Anyone who gets to experience the wonder it rings
I hope they know just how fortunate they are to get to live something so out of body
So raw
So enlightening
Once you find it
Hold on
And don’t let go for anything.

– Youth at DreamTree Project

My stars and stripes
lurk behind every corner.
A reminder that they thought we were always different.
Dirty, in some way,
made us poorer than the church mice that
colonized us.
We came here looking
for peace
But I gave you a bloodline of oppression.
I lurk
without a heart
instead 50 stars on my body
Where all men are created equal
Where men and women who were born here
Have to look behind them and can’t help thinking
that they aren’t the same.
Where tear gas and the reservation and
passion mash.
They have First Amendment rights too.
You can’t cover our mouths now.

– Grace Carmona-Young

ESL Immigration Monster

On September 5, the Trump Administration announced it would be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA has provided temporary relief from deportation, as well as work authorization, to more than 800,000 young immigrants who came to the United States as children. The ripple effects on immigrants across the nation, including those here in our own community, include heightened fear, increased isolation, and withdrawal from daily life, keeping children from school and parents from work.

Motivated by a deep desire to speak up and explain to our community what it means to be an immigrant in this xenophobic climate, a class of inter-generational English Language Learners (ELLs) students seized the opportunity to create an art project for this year’s Paseo Project 2017 event. Students explored the notion of “The Monster of Immigration”.  The students began their study by having an in-depth conversation about what immigration means to them. Using the metaphor of a “monster”, students answered questions put forth by the Paseo Project’s STEAM Monster Design Challenge: What does it look like? Where does it live? How does it grow? What do you want to tell it? How does it lose its power?  Themes of ignorance, distrust, inequality, economic uncertainty, and discrimination arose. They then began to work on solutions to these issues.

Our immigrant students envisioned the “monster” as a wall holding back a huge fire-breathing dragon, held by the ignorance, hate, racism, and ignorance of humanity. And, yet, they saw that within the fire, is a transformative power, an ability to overcome the horrors of injustice and inequality. The fire turns to a golden aura and orange butterflies emerge from the fire to symbolize this potential evolution. Each scale is a tiny piece of fabric that they sewed on, the fire flames are each carefully hand-cut, the butterflies were hand knitted or made of paper and painted, and the “wall” was constructed from old slats from blinds. The end result of their process is a beautiful tapestry that symbolizes the fears and negative implications of immigration and the beauty of solutions that can develop with increased education and an open mind…Read More.

Students Names: Alejandro Cordova, Laura Jiménez, María Elsa Caraveo, Patricia Romo, María Rodríguez, José Garduño, Nancy Garduno, Maria Elena Ortega, Rosa Martinez, Gabriella Morales, Angela Morales, Rosita Martinez, Laura Dominguez, Karla Guerrero, Alicia Rivera, María Castillo, Marcella Cisneros, Yosael Mejía and John Cordova.

TECC Instructors: Edie Buchanan, Esther Tipton and Montserrat Oyanedel-Tolmo.














Taos Academy

Venice and Kai


Fire Wisp


Orion F Joseph




Taos High School








STEAM Monster Challenge: UNM-Taos

Animation students participated in a 10-hour projection mapping workshop led by Paseo featured artist, Motomichi Nakamura. Students worked with UNM instructor, Peter Walker as part of his DMA 102 Class: Foundations of Digital Media course. Peter worked with students to complete their STEAM Monster animations before the artists arrived and then learned how to projection map using Madmapper and Module 8, generously donated by GarageCube. For the PASEO Party on the Plaza, the UNM students manned two projection stations. One station mapped the 70 winning monster drawing entries from the STEAM Monster Challenge (video above) and the other station displayed the animations from the Taos Academy student animation entries for the STEAM Monster challenge. Instructors: Peter Walker and Enrico Trujillo

Thank you to all the teachers and students that participated in the 2017 [email protected] Paseo Youth Program and to Motomichi Nakamura for inspiring the STEAM Monster Design Challenge.