El Palacio, the official magazine of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, possesses an identity as vibrant as the art, history, and culture it chronicles. First distributed in 1913 as a thin pamphlet, the publication has evolved into the gorgeous print quarterly and digital asset it is today, thanks to the contributions of countless talented individuals. Today, El Palacio continues to attract some of the best and brightest writers in the Southwest. 

Encounter Culture host and El Palacio editor Charlotte Jusinski speaks with Emily Withnall, a writer who has contributed to the magazine more than just about anyone else in recent memory. Charlotte and Emily discuss the writer’s path to El Palacio, the significant role nature plays in her writing, and her ability to sift through the ephemera that often complicates discussions about art. 

“So many of the artists that I interview (for El Palacio), especially indigenous artists, talk about that kind of––what is the word?––they come up against tradition, but also creating something new.” The word Emily’s searching for is “tension,” and it’s as much an existential concern for artists as it is an everyday obstacle for working writers. Word counts, deadlines, and other editorial demands press against the process. 

Then there are the logistical complications. It’s not easy to connect with folks scattered across the Southwest, even in the 21st century. Once she’s managed the challenges of remote pueblos and endless emails, however, conversation flows easily between Emily and her interviewees, aided by the good energy with which she conducts every exchange. So says Roxanne Swentzell, the fabulously talented Native American clay & bronze sculptor and contemporary pueblo artist.

Writing––not to mention reading––about art can be intimidating, especially if you don’t hold a degree in art. “I sometimes have apprehension when I’m approaching really big artists for El Palacio because I’m not an expert in photography or ceramics or whatever,” she explains. “But, I think to draw people in, speaking as an expert can be alienating.” Emily breaks down the thematic elements of a piece without dumbing them down, bringing the creation and its creator to life on the pages of El Palacio.

Emily Withnall lives and writes in Santa Fe. You can learn more about the writer and her work at emilywithnall.com. To learn more about El Palacio, visit elpalacio.org. You can even subscribe if you’re so inclined. A one-year subscription is $24.99; two years is $44.99. We’d love to have you on the list.

Encounter Culture, a production of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, is produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios.
Hosted by Charlotte Jusinski, Editor at El Palacio Magazine
Technical Director: Edwin R. Ruiz
Recording Engineer: Kabby at Kabby Sound Studios in Santa Fe
Executive Producer:  Daniel Zillmann
Show Notes: Lisa Widder
Associate Editor: Helen King
Associate Producer: Alex Riegler
Theme Music: D’Santi Nava
Instagram: @newmexicanculture
For more, visit podcast.nmculture.org.

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