Connecting people, culture and nature
The Canelo Project is a small non-profit organization, that we, Bill and Athena Steen founded in 1989 and whose work centers on the theme – Connecting People, Culture and Nature.
The small town of Canelo, in southeastern Arizona, is home to The Canelo Project and the center of many of our activities . We rebuilt the old adobe ranch house and complex of buildings to function as a place where people of different backgrounds and cultures could come together to share in an ongoing exploration of living, building, the arts, music and regional foods.
We have developed it as a center for learning, research, demonstration and cross-cultural gatherings. Our ongoing annual activities revolve around workshops, tours, intern programs and writing. The focal point of our work is handcrafting simple, small-scale and comfortable shelter that is built primarily with local and natural materials. In that pursuit, we have evolved a unique straw bale and clay wall system that is finished with beautiful clay and lime plasters, sculptural wall carvings, earthen floors and clay ovens.
We, Bill and Athena Steen, as the founding directors of The Canelo Project, have also taught and worked extensively in Mexico, taught workshops and lectured throughout Europe and the United States.
We have also become increasingly involved in museum art projects that include the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C., the National Botanical Gardens – Washington D.C., the Denver Art Museum, the Ceramic Research Center – Arizona State University and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
Our sons, Benito and Arjuna, on occasion, have involved themselves in our projects. They have grown up in the midst of various Canelo Project workshops and projects and in the process have developed their own individual paths. Benito has become talented in sculptural metal and artistic plaster work while Arjuna (Oso) has become a fine finish carpenter and straw bale builder.
As a non-profit organization we gladly accept donations of useful materials and tools, such as those on our Wish List.