"A Gathering of Waters: Approaching Water Issues through Art" at the McAllen International Museum

Basia Irland, Professor of Art at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, will present a special program at 6:30 PM Thursday evening at the McAllen International Museum. It will be an evening of photos and videos, the result a long-term project entitled "A Gathering of Waters." 
The project was initiated by Ireland in 1995 in conjunction with Dia del Rio, the first annual celebration by peoples along the entire length of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo River. The "gathering" involved carrying water in a special canteen from river's birthplace in southern Colorado's San Juan Mountains to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico. The "river vessel" is a canteen which was symbolically filled with a capful of water from areas along the 1,875 mile length of the river basin.

People who filled the vessel wrote descriptions of their artful event in a journal, which is now filled with pages containing the dates of each event, the locations of the water taken, the participants involved and brief historical references or summaries of the character of the river where the events occurred. (See attached photo.)

On its journey the vessel has traveled from acequia to acequia (viaduct), pueblo to pueblo, community to community and citizen to citizen. It has traveled by runners and carriers on foot, horseback, car, van, truck, bicycle, raft, bus and was even assisted by the U. S. Postal Service. The project culminated in an event on Boca Chica Beach during the 1998 Dia del Rio celebration. As a part of its science mission to build an awareness of the importance of the Rio Grande River, the McAllen International Museum has invited Professor Ireland to share the message of this project to all the people in the Rio Grande Valley who share a concern for our natural resources.

Like the McAllen International Museum's "River Runs Through Us" project, "A Gathering of Waters" has developed as a grassroots effort to focus awareness on the major artery which flows through our own region: the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, which currently holds the precarious status of third most endangered river in the United States. It is controlled and consumed to such an extent that it struggles to carry water from the mountains to the Gulf. Utilizing collaborative, locally-based activities along the length of the river, the "A Gathering of Waters" project has emphasized the rich cultural diversity of among the communities along the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo 
and increased public understanding of the river's relationship to the cultural and environmental issues of its adjacent communities.

"A Gathering of Waters: Approaching Water Issues through Art" is open to the public and free with general Museum admission. For more information, contact Mary Cloud at 682-1564, ext. 114.


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