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

An expert in archaeological and cultural education, Carol advises and oversees the development and dissemination of educational materials.

Carol Ellick
Educator, Anthropologist
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
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

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.

Jan Simek, PhD

UT Knoxville Professor Jan Simek, the foremost archaeological expert in the discovery and documentation of ancient art in southeastern United States caves, has spent decades trekking for miles in complete darkness, contorting his body to fit around rocks, and navigating down muddy and stony slopes.

Kristine Wellman

Currently Vice President at The Chemours Company, Kristine has held leadership roles in sustainability, operations, and corporate law in the chemicals and financial services industries.

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.