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Walking the Ditch

Sharon Stewart
Walking the Ditch
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 Katherine Ware, 2010
© Sharon Stewart

Sharon Stewart’s series El Agua es la Vida, begun in 1992 and continuing to the present, celebrates the tradition of a shared community irrigation system, known as acequia (pronounced “ah-SAY-key-uh”), in the village of El Cerrito in northern New Mexico. Like many rural areas of New Mexico and Colorado, the village is sustained by an ancient, gravity-flow irrigation system. This modest looking one-and-a-half-mile-long ditch has been maintained for generations because holders of water rights in the village have worked together to maintain a waterway that is vital to their agriculture, their livestock, and their community. Here Stewart suggests a comfortable integration of man and nature.