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Group supports traditional artists in Southern Arizona during pandemic

Louis David Valenzuela Pascola Mask
Posted at 6:39 AM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 08:39:14-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Louis David Valenzuela's home is filled with colorful artwork. He carves traditional Pascola masks by hand.

"The wood talks to me. Like I have told to many people, I can get a piece of wood and I see the image already there," said Valenzuela.

As a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, his love for mask-making began when he was in his teens. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many events featuring local artists were canceled.

"We've seen loss. We've seen loss of culture bearers over the course of this year," said Managing Director of the Southwest Folklife Alliance, Leia Maahs.

The Southwest Folklife Alliance supports native artists in Arizona. The group raised around $40,000 from across communities to help.

"The fund was created to be able to provide immediate access to resources for basic human needs," said Maahs.

Valenzuela was one of 50 artists to receive a $500 award. They were recognized for their commitment to preserving their culture and making a difference in Arizona.

"We're surviving. I think we're grateful that the creator gave us the talent that we have. We still keep it going. Even if we don't do shows, even if we don't do presentations, even if we don't do big events, together, we are a big family," said Valenzuela.

For now, Valenzuela is focusing on his passion.

"I will bring a big show to Tucson. It will promote all indigenous culture and art. It is time for us to tell our side of the story," said Valenzuela.

The Southwest Folklife Alliance is taking applications for artists in need until January 31, 2021.

To learn more about Louis David Valenzuela and his work, click here.