The Frente Agua Project
If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you sell them?
_ Chief Seattle
Collaborating Artists: Stephanie Wagner and Brack Morrow
Grants Received: New Mexico Arts & National Endowment for the Arts
Installation: Fantase Fest, Santa Fe, New Mexico in DeVargas Park, June 18, 6-midnight.
We are interested in the opportunity to share through visual art the story telling about water and it’s importance to all New Mexicans. Our project seeks to locate the deep and intimate relationship New Mexicans have with water. The Navajo Creation story tells us that a great river crossed the land from north to south, and this was the Female River. At the same time there was a river flowing from east to west, and this was the Male River. This “Place Where the Waters Crossed” is where life flourished for the first peoples.
Today these waters continue to cross our paths. New Mexico’s rivers connect all of us with precious resources that are our lifeblood. At the same time a combination of drought, invasive species, over-allocation, toxification, and unsustainable management is placing this lifeblood in danger. The wildlife that depends on rivers is in decline. The future of many communities and economies relying on river water is uncertain.
The Frente Agua (Facing Water) project seeks to put a face to the “magic, moving, living” resource that is our river water. We seek to create a conversation by lending voice to the many New Mexicans who rely on and are connected to water either by livelihood or by recreation. Our multidisciplinary project is a collaborative endeavor incorporating photography, sculpture, video projection, and sound for the purpose of exhibiting visual stories depicting how water impacts the lives of New Mexicans from broad walks of life around the state.
This project will rely on several elements to complete. The first stage requires research and storytelling. As we travel around New Mexico to visit our major river areas, we will shoot video and record the sounds of waterways. We will collect stories from individuals who rely on, or recreate in, those waters in various ways. We will ask people to convey what the river water means to them and how it has impacted their lives. We will record the stories of their experiences, and photograph the face of each storyteller. As fellow humans we are naturally drawn to the exquisite uniqueness of the face and all that it tells us of living.
The second element involves synthesizing the photography, video, sound, and text into a unique blend of imagery wherein water becomes the surface of each individual’s face as text and sound convey their thoughts and feelings about New Mexico’s riverways.
The project’s third element will require the construction of a 10-foot modular sculpture depicting the form of a face. This abstract face serves, in essence, as a projection screen that will give 3D form to the projected faces of the storytellers from all over New Mexico.
Please follow our project here:
A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.
__ Laura Gilpin, photographer, The Rio Grande: River of Destiny, 1949.