For Paseo Water/Culture 2019 we propose taking up textiles as relationship-based strategies for protecting acequia lifeways of the Taos Valley. Our collective storytelling and public participatory art piece will activate knots, woven structure, material-aesthetic practices, and fibersheds to honor the histories of the land-based people in Taos. This project works in the tracks of knot-encoded liberation projects like the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, and engages with the histories and presents of northern New Mexican weavers. We will revisit the runner-and-knot system articulated by Popé as a material way to connect people with the acequias, as well as to the stories of the people who tend to these waterways and rely on them. We will partner with local artisans and weavers to create a series of woven blue wool handkerchiefs and small colcha tapestries that will serve as tokens of relationship to the water and to the story-keepers. We will invite the community to bring the handmade textiles to the acequierxs as an offering. The acequierx and the community member will create a ritual knot in the handkerchief together after the acequierx shares a story about their relationship with the specific acequia. The community member will then “run” the handkerchief-and-knot back to a central meeting place where the freshly-made knots will be joined together in a textile art piece/group garment/story web roughly eight feet in diameter. Acequierxs and their story partners will be invited to reflect on the process, offering these ongoing relationship acts as blessings. The new knot-web of intimate storytelling and action created by these partnerships will serve as a hub for digging into the ongoing possibilities of political action that emerge out of the hard work of hearing each others’ experiences and being transformed by one another.
About the artists: We are a collective of three artists and organizers born and/or raised in New Mexico: Olivia Romo (b. 1993 Cristobal de la Serna Land Grant and homeland of the Red Willow People. Now living in the Pueblo of Pojoaque), xiili sarkela-bassett (b. 1994 in Red Willow People homelands. Now living in unceded Lenape territories), and Suldano Abdiruhman (b. 1996 Ramah, NM. Now living unceded Lenape territories). As a group we attend to embodied, land-based knowledge as a way to collectively construct new languages through the tools of textile and relationship.