ARTIST EXTENDED BIOGRAPHY
Ahni Rocheleau is a sculptor, painter, and poet occasionally incorporating art performance into her work, who uses media according to its ability to give voice to content while conjuring associations of memory. Media have included: cast glass, bronze, steel, cloth, vines and grasses, liquids, wires, other electrical apparatus and so forth.
With a Master in Fine Arts in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Ahni Rocheleau has a lifelong passion for awakening viewers to social issues of deep concern. She explores through her art, our culture’s relationship to the natural environment and addressing eco-system issues; constructions of otherness, including racism; and our relationship to militarism.
At RISD Ahni taught an art studio and seminar called Monuments to Peace, which served as a precursor to her non-profit Spaces for Peace. As an artist, she has shown her work in over fifty exhibitions nationally and internationally, including organizing a bi-national collaborative project “El Río Desde Adentro/The River Within” and “Retorno/Return” with artists in Medellin, Colombia. She has won many awards including the Walter Hopps (former Director of the Menil Collection) Award.
For years Ahni has taught sculpture, 3-D design, and drawing at the University of Connecticut (Storrs), Providence College, and the Rhode Island School of Design. At the Rhode Island School of Design Museum’s Education Department, she taught and designed art-literacy programs based on the museum’s collection.
Rocheleau revels in art curating and views many of her over two-dozen exhibitions as cultural action often bringing together artists addressing similar issues to then make a more significant collective statement. Both the art making and curating have evolved to embrace social and environmental activism directly, merging, interfacing, coalescing occasionally as one, a creative indissoluble flow.
She established her reputation in curating by organizing two multiple-site “Art Against Racism” exhibitions, one in 1989, the second in 1991, siting these large group shows at the Rhode Island School of Design, the Hughes Center for the Arts, Brown University, and AS220, all in Providence, Rhode Island.
As Director of the Rhode Island Foundation Gallery, Providence, Rhode Island she organized and curated numerous exhibitions often reflecting the social and environmental issues of concern to the Foundation’s donors. One exhibition, titled “Flexible Space, Adaptive Reuse and the New Economic Mainstream: Artists and Architects Inspired by Mill Buildings and Their Preservation,” co-curated with Erik Bright and Clay Rockefeller, lead the City of Providence, Rhode Island to create the first in the country “Industrial Commercial Buildings District” with local development, zoning and property incentives and helped to push State of Rhode Island Tax Historic Tax Credits. This greatly benefitted the adaptive reuse of vacant mill buildings for the purpose creating live/work spaces.
As Assistant Director of the Langston Hughes Center for the Arts, Rocheleau oversaw modern and tap dance, art, theater and creative writing educational programs and was involved in organizing jazz, poetry, book discussion, and theater public events. Later, she coordinated a Rhode Island Council for the Humanities panel discussion series based on the Tavis Smiley book, “The Covenant with Black America.”
With Providence ¡CityArts! for Youth, she ran an arts program that offered clay, painting, sculpture, film animation, photography, breakdancing, and violin, plus a guest-artist community outreach satellite program at l twelve libraries funded by a federal libraries grant.
Rocheleau taught and coordinated a major arts project at the maximum-security prison “Vacaville Medical Facility” for the California Department of Corrections, working directly with well-known artist inmates.
Ahni Rocheleau is the only known individual in New Mexico certified in Kingian Nonviolence Education, Leadership, Organization and Mobilization (that strand of nonviolence derived from the lifework of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.). Rocheleau is certified through the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, where she studied with Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr., formerly Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s National Program Administrator, and current Distinguished Senior Scholar-in-Residence at Emory University. She is also certified in Nonviolence with the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence, Rhode Island and is active in the international Kingian Nonviolence Education Trainers NETwork.
Inspired by the 3rd principle of Kingian Nonviolence: “Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not the people caught up in an unjust system,” Rocheleau offers speaking engagements, workshops and semester-long programs in Kingian Nonviolence. These programs are useful to seasoned and budding community activists in all areas of social change. Study groups, lead by her are designed to apply Kingian Nonviolence to a specific issue, resulting in participants’ transformational understanding and the development of customized strategies. Her “Active Consciousness” programs bring together Kingian Nonviolence with art.
Since 2013, she serves on the New Mexico Board of Directors of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), historically founded in the South by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the vehicle for his American civil rights campaigns and the organization that continues his work today.
Most recently as the New Mexico state coordinator for the Great March for Climate Action, she was responsible for the well-being of 35 marchers as they traversed New Mexico on their way from Los Angeles to Washington DC; evaluated hundreds of miles New Mexico roads from Zuni to Colorado in search of safe-to-walk byways; established 29-camps (in fields, lots, churches and schools); worked with twelve pueblo tribal administrations for passage through their lands and interaction with residents; worked with four city councils to establish permitted rallies; coordinated three rallies with quality speakers related to climate: Albuquerque (10 speakers), Santa Fe (16 speakers), and Taos (10 speakers and 2 blessing givers), organized cultural interactive performances, and more.
Documenting her social interests has and is leading into a complementary creative documentary film career. Films are to include the Great March for Climate Action, including footage the Peoples Climate March in New York City; the 2015 Diné activist coalition and their movement to save Chaco Canyon from the Piñon Pipeline and encroaching fracking; interviews of three Civil Rights Era New Mexico residents; documenting the historic Confederation of the Eagle, the Quetzal, and the Condor, a coming together of Mayan Elders, in 2015 in Sedona; and a documentary on Mold Mycotoxins Disease or how Mold Spores within water damaged buildings is the “Asbestos Story” of the today.
Ahni lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her life-partner sculptor, photographer, and web designer Lowell Reiland, is fluent in French, and participates in the Oneness spiritual community.
See exhibitions, awards, and speaking engagements.
Return to top of BIO/RESUME Page