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Sharon Stewart
From the series El Agua es la Vida
Gelatin silver print
13 x 13 inches
Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art. Purchased with funds from Edward Osowski in honor of the artist, 2010
© Sharon Stewart

To organize the spring cleaning, or limpia (pronounced “LEEM-pea-uh”), that starts the water season and to oversee the care of the acequia (“ah-SAY-key-uh”), the members of the community with water rights choose a mayordomo (“my-or-DOH-moh”) who is also in charge of mediating water disputes. Traditionally, these were always men, but more recently women have become participants in not only caring for the ditch but also in assuming the role of mayordomo. Cleaning up after a long winter can be hard work, though it is made easier by communal effort, and by the jokes and songs shared among the workers. The artist was drawn to tradition in which people try to work cooperatively with the elements, the seasons, and the neighbors, seeing it as a positive model for contemporary life. She frames the pictue to emphasize the line of workers crowding the ditch, their industriousness supervised by the mayordomo and a dog.