This project is generously sponsored by the LOR Foundation
To introduce a project about acequias and their transformations is both an urgent and a contentious task. The culture of acequias is centuries old, handed down from generation to generation, a vital resource for life to thrive in the high desert. And the destruction and loss of the acequias across the valley have been a signal to many that traditional lifeways and culture are being lost to development, displacement, and climate change.
The Acequia Aquí project attempts to give voice to the acequias, the history and the culture that have supported the valley’s living and breathing web, while also exploring opportunities for new community engagement, education, and generational involvement. The Paseo Project seeks to transform the community through art, and to transform art through community involvement. With Acequia Aquí we explore a vital public utility through the imagination, resourcefulness, and inspiration of local artists, writers, and acequieros.
In the fall of 2017, The Paseo Project set out to address rural community design issues utilizing the creative tools of the contemporary artist. In collaboration with the Acequia Madre del Río Pueblo, we developed the first booklet, Acequia Aquí: The History and Preservation of the Acequia Madre del Río Pueblo, a publication that visualized the downtown area’s disappearing acequia networks. The booklet documented the existing and lost acequias, captured stories from local parciantes, and provided resources on existing codes, guidelines and language around this centuries-old public utility. In the final pages, The Paseo Project made a call to local creatives: “How can we educate, illuminate, and celebrate our historic acequias?”
For PASEO 2019, six New Mexican artists were invited to present their work to the community of Taos, using a diversity of media, presentation methods, and engagement activities. This series of work revealed how intricately connected the acequias have been, and still are, to our lives here in the high desert. Going beyond a sophisticated water-irrigation system for local agriculture, the acequias are embedded with traditions of weaving, storytelling, culture, and art. So intertwined, in fact, that to lose our acequias is to risk losing the art, history, and culture it supports. This compilation reveals these contemporary approaches on how we can share, educate, commemorate, preserve — and perhaps revolutionize — historical lifeways.
Meet the selected artists for phase two of Acequia Aqui, and their water-themed artworks presented at PASEO 2019:
Rica Maestas, Albuquerque NM
In collaboration with Tessa Cordova and Las Pistoleras Instituto Cultural de Arte
The Knot, the Loom, and the Relationship
xiili sarkela, Olivia Romo and Suldano Abdiruhman, Taos and Ramah NM
Telepoem Booth® Acequia del Madre
Elizabeth Hellstern, Owen William Fritts, Cerrillos, NM, In collaboration with Ariana Kramer and SOMOS
Spinning with Water Wisdom
Juanita J. Lavadie, Olivia Romo, David García, Judy Torres, Taos & Española
Ayrton Chapman, Los Lunas NM
Implied Line, El Linaje Implícito
Ruben Olguin, Roswell NM
Slated for release in the spring of 2021, Acequia Aqui: Water, Community & Creativity, a catalog selected projects: 2018 – 2020. With Acequia Aquí, we hope to critically investigate the future of our acequias by exploring new engagements while honoring past achievements. The projects and writings within are to inspire designers, urban planners, municipalities, and acequia communities to continue the legacy of acequias for generations to come. We hope that Acequia Aquí helps create more attention around this resource and the ways in which a community can honor its intricate web.
Along with featuring invited PASEO artists, three guest essays are included that speak to the past while addressing the urgency of the future. Taos Town Council Member and Mayordomo Fritz Hahn, with archaeologist Mark Henderson, shares the current strategies being implemented to secure a future of flowing acequias. Local artist, educator, and activist Miguel Santistevan reminds us of the complex history of Northern New Mexico, and the urgency of including it in the new narratives being created in our community. And we end with Sylvia Rodriguez, who speaks to the historical foundation of our ideals, the struggles of today, and the future of acequias and our world at large.
A free pdf download will be available with the publication of a short print run of books