Don Usner

Don J. Usner

Born in 1957 in Embudo, New Mexico, Don grew up in Los Alamos and Chimayó, New Mexico. He earned a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz and went on to manage an ecological reserve in Big Sur, California, where he co-authored and took photographs for his first book, The Natural History of Big Sur, published by the University of California Press.

Don completed his M.A. in Geography at the University of New Mexico, then produced his second book, Sabino’s Map: Life in Chimayó’s Old Plaza, published in 1995 by the Museum of New Mexico Press. He has since written and provided photographs for several more books, including, most recently, Chasing Dichos through Chimayó (2014), and Valles Caldera: A Vision for New Mexico’s National Preserve (1996) (winner of a Southwest Book Award in 1996). Don also contributed a chapter and photographs to The Plazas of New Mexico. San Antonio: Trinity University Press (2011) (also a winner of Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association).

Don writes for periodicals as well, and recently published “On the Mary and Joseph Trail,” in New Mexico magazine, December 2014; “Finding the Right Words,” in New Mexico magazine, January 2014; “Chimayó,” (a photo essay in the photography journal Lenswork); “Postcard from New Mexico,” in Photo Booth (an online blog of the New Yorker, July 16, 2012); “Lowriders Cruising El Norte,” Bienvenidos, Summer 2012; and “Don Victor Ortega: A Chimayó Patrón Goes to the Constitutional Convention,” in El Palacio, Spring 2012.

Don was named a New Mexico Luminaria by the New Mexico Community Foundation in 2013, an award given to New Mexicans who “ motivate, inspire and support the dreams of others, promote diversity and equity, and build community strength through their leadership and vision.” He teaches photography at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design as well as Santa Fe Preparatory School and works independently as a writer and photographer in Santa Fe.