Our Team

why humans became artists

Producing a lengthy story on why humans became artists inspired National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez to found the Ancient Art Archive:

“Standing in front of 36,000-year-old cave paintings in France, I felt time collapse and the artist speak straight to me across an unimaginable gulf of time. The experience changed me. I started the Archive not just to preserve ancient art sites and our common cultural heritage, but to share them with everyone”

- Stephen Alvarez

Mural of America Collaborators

Core Team
Joe Watkins, Ph.D.

A prominent archaeologist and Choctaw tribal member, Joe is engaging with Native communities and will drive the archaeological, educational, and artistic stories for all ten sites.

Joe Watkins, Ph.D.
Choctaw, Archaeologist

An award-winning artist and citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, Dustin is providing artistic direction and ideas for educational art activities.

Dustin Mater
Chickasaw, Multimedia Artist

An internationally acclaimed National Geographic photojournalist, Stephen is the visionary and documentarian behind the Mural of America.

Stephen Alvarez
Photographer
Steph Welsh

An award-winning non-profit leader, Steph facilitates collaborative content development and distribution.

Steph Welsh
Executive Director
James Cawley

James is an award-winning filmmaker specializing in interactive media and is a proud descendant of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation.

James Cawley
Filmmaker
Artists
Kevin Pourier

A member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and one of the only artists in the country working in the medium of incised buffalo horn, Kevin Pourier’s carvings carry forward Lakota artistic practices for creating spoons and vessels of sublime beauty, utilizing imagery designed to inspire and create opportunities for education.

Kevin Pourier
Oglala Sioux, Jeweler
Eddy Shorty

Formally trained at the Institute of American Indian Art, Eddy Shorty experiences sculpture as a process of revealing a form hidden in the stone, often animals or spirit beings from Navajo mythology.

Eddy Shorty
Navajo, Sculptor
Thomas Tenorio

Born into the Pueblo of Santo Domingo, Thomas Tenorio uses his ancestors’ traditional methods to build, fire, and create natural pigments for his pottery, then adds his own unique, contemporary style when painting traditional designs.

Thomas Tenorio
Kewa (Santo Domingo) Pueblo, Potter
Site Experts
Carolyn Boyd, PhD

A prolific author and endowed Professor at Texas State University, Carolyn Boyd founded the Shumla Archaeological Research and Education Center to preserve, study, and share the unique and endangered ancient art of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands.

Carolyn Boyd, PhD
Seminole Canyon, Texas
Kevin Jones, PhD

Kevin Jones is the former state archaeologist of Utah and the author of Standing on the Walls of Time: Ancient Art of Utah’s Cliffs and Canyons.

Kevin Jones, PhD
Rochester Creek Panel, Utah
Brad Lepper

Brad Lepper is the Senior Archaeologist for the Ohio History Connection’s World Heritage program and is the author of an award-winning book, Ohio Archaeology: an illustrated chronicle of Ohio’s ancient American Indian cultures.

Brad Lepper, PhD
Great Serpent Mound, Ohio
Jan Simek

A professor of anthropology at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, Dr. Simek is well known as a leading archaeological expert in the discovery and documentation of ancient art in southeastern United States.

Jan Simek, PhD
Devilstep Hollow Cave, Tennessee
Jessica Hamlin

Jessica Hamlin runs the Shumla Archaeological Research and Education Center, a global leader in rock art research and education.

Jessica Hamlin
Seminole Canyon, Texas
Larry Cesspooch

Larry Cesspooch is a Ute spiritual leader and storyteller who founded one of the first tribal production groups and currently tells stories through his own company, “Through Native Eyes Productions.”

Larry Cesspooch
Rochester Creek Panel, Utah
Lyle Balenquah

Lyle Balenquah, Hopi, works as an archaeologist, river guide, and hiking guide across the Four Corners region, combining his professional training with personal experiences and insights about Hopi culture and history to advocate for the protection and preservation of ancestral landscapes.

Lyle Balenquah
Rochester Creek Panel, Utah
Jamie Hollingsworth

A practicing archaeologist for over 15 years, Jamie Hollingsworth is Diné (Navajo), a 9 Mile Canyon Coalition Board member, and guest faculty with the Canyonlands Field Institute.

Jamie Hollingsworth
Rochester Creek Panel, Utah
Tim Riley, PhD

In his role as the Director and Curator of Archaeology at the Utah State University Eastern Prehistoric Museum, Tim Riley regularly engages the public in rock art through outreach and education.

Tim Riley, PhD
Rochester Creek Panel, Utah
Education Team

Carol is a leading expert in archaeological and cultural education and the developer of Parallel Perspectives strategy for developing educational materials.

Carol Ellick
Educator, Anthropologist
Nick Haag

Nick is a talented museum educator with extensive expertise in creating and evaluating multi-disciplinary hands-on education activities.

Nick Haag
Educator and Educational Advocate

Ancient Art Archive Directors

Stephen Alvarez, Founder

Moved by the power of humanity’s earliest artworks, National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez founded the Ancient Art Archive, a non-profit organization dedicated to using photography and image-based VR technology to share and preserve this fragile historical legacy.

Gregory Crouch, Chair

Gregory Crouch is an author who specializes in adventurous and historic subjects. Most recently, he is the author of The Bonanza King: John Mackay and the Battle Over the Greatest Riches in the American West (Scribner, 2018).

Sarah Lowe, Board Secretary

A member of Frost Brown Todd LLC, Sarah Lowe is a lawyer with eclectic interests, including an abiding interest in history and the arts. Her legal practice focuses on employee benefits, with an emphasis in the areas of qualified plans, related ERISA fiduciary issues and pension plan investments.

Josh Denton
Josh Denton

Josh’s legal practice at Denton Austin PLC in Tennessee focuses on all aspects of land use, zoning, real estate development, and real estate dispute resolution. He is passionate about historic preservation: in addition to his board service for the Archive, he serves on the Historic Zoning Commission for the City of Franklin and has previously served as a board member of The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County.

Stephanie Welsh, Executive Director

Stephanie Welsh is a seasoned non-profit executive and coach who leads the multi-faceted administrative, communication, and relationship-building efforts of the Ancient Art Archive.

All Proceeds Benefit the Ancient Art Archive

A seasoned speaker, Stephen Alvarez loves sharing breathtaking photographs and extraordinary stories of his National Geographic adventures in rarely seen environments.

Inspired by his stories, audiences leave with changed perspectives that generate new ideas and new solutions.

Learn More