Storytelling in the 21st Century – Our Academic Selves – Conference, Spring 2024



Storytelling in the 21st Century – Our Academic Selves was a smash success. With roughly 70 attendees from all over central Texas, it was an amazing crowd of film makers, artists and academics showcasing their approaches to both teaching and practicing storytelling in the 21st century. The stories and lived realities shared by those about experiences inside and outside the classroom was inspiring and set an amazing tone for the conference. Below you will find a short summary of each presentation, along with photos and video that document them, we hope you enjoy them and can join us at next years conference.


Texas A&M University, Department of Communication & Journalism, Media & Gaming Lab

The Media Gaming Lab was presented by professor Jonathan Guajardo and graduate student Rick Pulos, they introduced the approach of lab in terms of facilitating student, faculty and community engagement. Then student Connor McCormick presented experience as a year student. Senior and graduating student Zayno Rayne gave a presentation about his experiences of wanting to be part of the music scene, to becoming a booking agent for the Grand Stafford Theatre in Bryan, TX. Doctoral student David Dockery then gave a presentation about gaming and personalized experiences of narratives and spoke about the lab’s facilitation of a weekly gaming meet up. Overall the presentation was well received, great questions fielded, check out the video for more.

University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown made their presence known at the 21st Century Storytelling Conference. Dr. Albert DeJesus, Dr. Anthony Ramirez, who are the co-directors of the Center for Latino Studies at the University of Houston-Downtown along with their student assistant Jasmin Rojas, brought various student organizations and alumni including Latinas Achieve, Conjunto Cultural Appreciation Group, and Que Onda Magazine. During the presentation, each group had an opportunity to share their experiences at UHD and their collaborative efforts with the Center for Latino Studies. What made this presentation special was how closely tied the group was. They called themselves “familia” or family. This was evident throughout the presentation as each presenter was very open and vulnerable while sharing their work, experiences, and more. During the Q&A portion of the presentation, led to a further discussion about Latinidad and identity with the audience as many of the audience members felt a connection to the presentation. This led to a very powerful emotional moment for everyone at the conference. It was a real honor and privilege for the University of Houston-Downtown’s Center for Latino Studies and our various student organizations to be at this conference. We hope to make this an on-going tradition. 


The keynote was presented by joey lopez phd and focused on the theme of the conference Storytelling in the 21st Century, Our Academic Selves. His presentation works through his own lived reality and how he uses storying telling as his way of publishing works.

Texas A&M University, Department of Communication & Journalism 

The Texas A&M Department of Communication & Journalism’s Graduate Program presenters were Dr. George Villanueva and Dr. Anna Wolfe. They both contextualized the program and it’s efforts to foster multimodal works, as well as provided insight into course work performed in their courses. Then Ph.D. students Rick Pulos and Valentina Aduen presented their multimodal works with a great response from the audience. Master student Nathan Carr presented on video gaming and it’s role in mental health and it’s impact on society.

Texas A&M University, College of Performance, Visualization & Fine Arts

Representing the School of Performance, Visualization, and Fine Arts, Dr. Michelle Simms reflected on her adjusted approach to teaching that she expanded to embrace a master-apprentice style model. Dr. Matthew Campbell went on to discuss project-based education, involving STEM students in liberal arts studies, and a festival supported by the PVFA Performance Studies program, Lorefest, in which students were charged to research local or glocal folklore, then take that research and creative a performative presentation with the information uncovered and gathered. Campbell’s argument being that an approach to exposing non-humanities students to the benefits of humanities research may be through the production of creative output related to that research. Dr. Will Connor wrapped up the panel with a discussion of teaching methodologies incorporating a traditional Presentation-Practice-Production model and Constructionism philosophy that encourages a personalization and therefore internalization of materials taught by inviting the students to build an asset based on the course material. In his case, Connor’s students build noise-making devices and musical instruments and performed with them in “real-world” settings to solidify connections and understandings of the related practices and cultures associated with the instruments.

Community Panel

Curated by professor joey lopez, the community panel consisted of three unique individuals who practice community building through art in varying ways. Than Niles presented about his journey of community building as a film maker and then showed a trailer to one of his films that was suppose to be released right when COVID occured, he ended up working with the San Antonio Food Bank to put together a drive in theater experience which raised funds for the food bank. Then Victoria Snaith gave an amazing “academic self” performance jamming and riffing on the presentations and her own lived reality, bringing an energy and breath to the space that thespians are so good at doing! Inspired by the artists before him, Ernesto Cuevas seized the opportunity to expand upon the energy and incorporated some of Dr. William Connors presentation to do perform a live mural building exercise using the whiteboard and volunteers. What was created were intermodal works of art that built community and meaning through the sharing of symbols and their meanings. Check out the video:

Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Film Production Program

Professors Gabriel Duran, John Darbonne, alongside student Sara Carlson, delivered an enlightening presentation on TAMUCC’s Advanced Narrative Pedagogy. Professor Duran provided a comprehensive insight into the Advanced Narrative Film course, a distinguished 4000-level program meticulously crafted to immerse students in real-world film production scenarios. From the intricate art of casting to the nuanced orchestration of crew dynamics, and from the meticulous management of budgets to the seamless coordination of departments, this course stands as the bedrock of professional filmmaking education.

Expanding on this discourse, Professor Darbonne underscored the collaborative ethos of the curriculum, underscoring how students actively engage with complementary courses such as Advanced Editing. As a unified department, the goal is to amalgamate diverse talents into a singular project, pooling resources and expertise with the audacious ambition of clinching a nomination for the revered Student Academy Awards. This collective endeavor not only marks the pinnacle Capstone project for the department but also serves as a testament to the university’s unwavering commitment to nurturing cinematic excellence.

During the presentation, TAMUCC student Sara Carlson, who is enrolled in both Advanced Narrative and Advanced Editing, shared her firsthand experiences as the project lead. She elaborated on the challenges encountered and the invaluable lessons gleaned from participating in a class structured to mirror real-world environments. Following the presentation, an engaging Q&A session ensued, with attendees eagerly seeking insights into the implementation and outcomes of such an immersive educational approach.


joey concluded the conference speaking about building community and reflecting on our own journey’s and how they impact each other.

What’s Next?

Our take away’s from this conference is that we are definitely having another! We have begun working on one to take place in San Antonio, TX. We will see where that goes, our hope is to include k-12 and higher education alternative pedagogically based programs. So stay tuned!

Guadalupe Pop Shop


Wheelz Studio and Dreamonoid’s HiFi hosted Guadalupe Pop Shop to celebrate the opening of Wheelz Studio, a barber shop located in co-owner of Dreamonoid’s Christian Rios’ 1711 Guadalupe building in San Antonio, TX.


Over the last year at Dreamonoid’s HiFi, I (joey) have transitioned to running a Dreamonoid’s in Bryan, TX and Christian Rios has been running the shop in San Antonio. After a couple months, Christian found his groove of how he wanted the space in Dreamonoid’s SA to function and reached out to his barber Wheelz, who is a long time friend of his and offered him half the space to setup his own studio. The results have been amazing.

Wheelz, aka Andrew Gonzales, has been a barber for decades and is a polymath who is also interested in audio, photography, video and much more. The barber shop reflects this with an amazing aesthetic offering a cozy feel with a lounge area and video game consoles. With four chairs and multiple barbers ready to give cuts, their clientele has been growing smoothly.

Guadalupe Pop Shop

Wheelz and Christian did a great shop curating the event adding string lights outside, having a good mix of venders, offering drinks (provided by Wheelz Studio) and live music. Here is a highlight of just a few of the many awesome venders (go to the gallery at the end of the article to see all the venders).

Emmanuel Valtierra had his art on display and it was amazing to see all the decks he has been creating along with his prints. He also spoke about his latest venture of working with DC comics on visuals for an upcoming movie.

La Calavera Garbancera restaurant located next to Dreamonoid’s was one of the food venders and provided patrons with some good eats and when they didn’t have it right there, they would direct them to the restaurant. Performer Zayno Rayne was one of those patrons who went over to the resturant and got some Barria tacos and loved them so much, he told us he went back there the next day for lunch before heading back to College Station, TX.

Danielsan & Zayno Rayne

Danielsan & Zayno and company delivered a great show. Dizzy an audio engineer based out of College Station set them up. They opened with DJ MOTTA who played a two hour set and then Zayno opened and Danielsan headlined. The performed Duo’s at the end. Rooted out of the Bryan, College Station, TX area, it was great having them perform at the Guadalupe Pop Shop event, the crowd and the venders were all vibing and they definitely provided some great energy.


Overall it was just crazy for me, joey, to experience the Guadalupe Pop Shop as it was a mix of so many different generations of students I have taught and am teaching, friends, family, hifi customers and community members. It was a trip to get to show Zayno and the performers the space (see video below) as I have always talked about it, but it’s another thing for them to get to see and experience it.

While I finished the event exhausted, with a subwoofer blown, PA cords doused in drinks, I finished the weekend cleaning it all up and reflecting on the unique temporary autonomous zone (TAZ) created by this event where cultures collided in a harmonious way.

Photo Gallery



BIPOC Pop 2024 was definitely a new perspective for me.  Both times I came in the past I was highly involved with panels or workshops and definitely working on producing photos and video as primary content to document the event.  This time I attended as a co workshop leader and then just as an attendee.  It was much more of my “anthropologist hat on,” kinda attendance where I get to just sit and absorb what’s going on around me.  I spoke with a lot of different attendees, artists, academics, students, people from the community in general.  I went to some dinners and in general just took it all in.  This year’s blog post is definitely a reflective one.

I carpooled with Dr. Ramirez from Bryan, TX.  Dr. Ramirez is an assistant professor at the University of Houston Downtown and helps run the Center for Latino Studies.   We would have good discussions on the drives to and from the conference, getting to discuss theory, our jobs and on the way back, deep reflections on the conference.  It was amazing.  We also hosted a workshop together about multimodal academic works and pedagogical approaches.  Dr. Ramirez did an amazing job leading the workshop and the interactions were great.

At the conference itself I just kinda sat around and would “graze” the panels, workshops and artist market.  I attended some great workshops, my personal favorites that I attended were Mary Cantu’s and Ernesto Cuevas’.  Both approached their workshops in a very inclusive community oriented way that encouraged everyone to participate and interact, yet also time for self reflection and growth.  

Anel Flores

I was able to capture some video of Anel Flores’ Zine workshop, it was amazing. Anel is a poet, visual artist and in general a public figure in San Antonio who represents the “other,” in so many spaces. While I was not able to attend the full workshop, I was so inspired by her reading of her zine and the imagery used. I was personally touched by her use of Jovita Idar, my great great Aunt.

Mary’s Workshop

Mary’s workshop focused on comics and the panels themselves, she had us choose comics that we would then color the panels and create a “basic” meaning of shapes and colors that give meaning to the panels. I created my own using a comic and when finished took a side by side of a similar page and my work, it was definitely a good process for both the mind and creativity.

Ernesto’s Workshop

Ernesto led a workshop where he had people pair up and develop what I am calling “miniature murals” based on text, art and thinking about stories.  I worked with Dukes comic’s co-creator Dr. E.C. Dukes, along with my son jojo on creating a mini mural.  What is so awesome to me about this kinds of workshops is that it is so much more than learning to create a mini mural, it is the journey, the conversations and intermodal art approach to creating, creating bonds, memories and lessons.

Dr. González’s Workshop

I also attended Dr. Christopher González’s  workshop, Latinx Life Tales: Writing Workshop From Memory to Memoir.  His talk explored his journey to creating Big Scary Brown Guy – A memoir.  My personal reason for going to this was very open ended.  I just had a feeling to go and that I would figure out why when I was there. Dr. González was a great presenter and fielded questions of all types. 

My Reflection On Dr. González’s Workshop

What I took away personally was that I should create a memoir at some point and if I were to do one soon I think a title might be “A academic degenerates life – part one.”  It made me think about a list of articles I have already written that might culminate into something.  Here are a few:

Artist & Book Market

The artist and book market is one of my favorite parts of BIPOC. It is where I get to meet so many creative people, learn about publishing opportunities and purchase from and support artists directly. This year did not disappoint. I got the pleasure of meeting the Dukes after many years of hearing about their amazing work. It was definitely a para-social relationship moment where I have followed their work for so long on social media that I felt like I knew them. The cool part was that I got to know them very quickly. They are definitely people I want to stay in touch with.

I also met Sarah Rafael García of the LibroMobile Arts Cooperative and learned about their efforts in Santa Ana, California to celebrate Latinx heritage through community oriented art works and shows. I am hoping we are able to collaborate on some sort of project soon.

In general I got lots of good art work, here are some of my “finds”


Overall BIPOC 2024 was great. I will say it exhausted me. Ultimately I am an anthropologist and I take in a lot of the energy of people around me and it was overwhelming. The overarching feeling was one of optimism. That said, I do want to recognized the feeling of internal and external struggle by the artists and academics who presented. Many stories and pieces and presentations are based around painful experiences, past and present. This overtone definitely kept things “real.” I saw many academics who are currently struggling to find themselves and representations of themselves in academia. Yearning to learn how to navigate Academia at all levels. I did publish an article on my personal website about it:

I encourage anyone who has the smallest amount of interest to attend BIPOC 2025, it is free and something that Fredrick Luis Aldama and Samantha Ceballos produce at a level of sincerity that shows and attendees like me appreciate and value.