Pub­lic com­pe­ti­tion sus­tains art and wa­ter in a his­toric way

The Arizona Republic - - Valley&state - Priscilla Totiya­pung­prasert

The Ari­zona Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion an­nounced the win­ners Wed­nes­day of the Wa­ter Pub­lic Art Chal­lenge, the non-profit’s third an­nual wa­ter sus­tain­abil­ity con­test. This year the foun­da­tion in­vited lo­cal artists to il­lus­trate how an­ces­tral Sono­ran Desert peo­ple moved wa­ter — and thus life — to the Val­ley of the Sun.

Ar­chae­ol­o­gists credit Huhugam peo­ple, an­ces­tors of the To­hono O’odham tribe, for en­gi­neer­ing com­plex sys­tems of ir­ri­gation canals be­tween 450 and 1450 A.D.

It was this agri­cul­tural prac­tice that helped set­tle­ments de­velop in cen­tral and south­ern Ari­zona. In other words, the foun­da­tion of Phoenix wouldn’t have been the same with­out the Huhugam and their ir­ri­gation farm­ing cul­ture.

Teams par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Wa­ter Pub­lic Art Chal­lenge were asked to sub­mit pro­pos­als for tem­po­rary pub­lic art projects that demon­strate the in­ge­nu­ity of the Huhugam. The judg­ing com­mit­tee then se­lected five win­ners from 14 fi­nal­ists, all of whom show­cased their pro­pos­als at Phoenix Art Mu­seum Wed­nes­day evening.

This group of judges de­ter­mined if the pro­posal was cul­tur­ally ap­pro­pri­ate, and if it em­pha­sized the his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of the Huhugam’s con­tri­bu­tions to the Phoenix area’s present­day ex­is­tence, said Jacky Alling, chief phi­lan­thropy of­fi­cer for the Ari­zona Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion at the event. The win­ners are:

❚ City of Mesa, Wa­ter=Life: Mak­ing the In­vis­i­ble Vis­i­ble ❚ Scotts­dale Arts, A Deeper Map ❚ The Con­tin­uum, Su:dagi Haichu Agga (Wa­ters Story) ❚ Vesich eth ve:m (All of Us To­gether), We Are Still Here

Wa­ter Her­itage Col­lec­tive, Por­tal to the Past

The win­ning teams re­ceived $50,000 each to de­velop their pub­lic art projects in the Phoenix area. Ex­perts from var­i­ous sec­tors, in­clud­ing art, Na­tive Amer­i­can cul­ture and wa­ter util­i­ties, made up the seven-mem­ber judg­ing com­mit­tee.

“We liked the idea of art and wa­ter, and when talk­ing about wa­ter we can’t do that with­out look­ing at the his­tory of the Sono­ran Desert peo­ple and their im­pact here,” said Lisa Danc­sok, foun­da­tion spokes­woman.

The Wa­ter Pub­lic Art Chal­lenge is also the third con­sec­u­tive year of the New Ari­zona Prize com­pe­ti­tion, spon­sored by the Ari­zona Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion, Repub­lic Me­dia — which pub­lishes

The Ari­zona Repub­lic and az­cen­tral — and the Mor­ri­son In­sti­tute for Pub­lic Pol­icy at Ari­zona State Univer­sity.

The in­au­gu­ral con­test fea­tured the Wa­ter Con­scious­ness Chal­lenge, where par­tic­i­pants sub­mit­ted dig­i­tal strate­gies for rais­ing aware­ness about Ari­zona’s wa­ter fu­ture. In the fol­low­ing Wa­ter In­no­va­tion Chal­lenge, in­vited teams had to come up with a mar­ket­based, wa­ter sus­tain­abil­ity plan for a town, city, county or area.

En­vi­ron­men­tal cov­er­age on az­cen­ and in The Ari­zona Repub­lic is sup­ported by a grant from the Nina Ma­son Pul­liam Char­i­ta­ble Trust. Fol­low The Repub­lic en­vi­ron­men­tal re­port­ing team at OurGrandAZ or at en­vi­ron­ cen­ or Face­book, Twit­ter and In­sta­gram.


Peo­ple pe­ruse the Wa­ter Pub­lic Art Chal­lenge dis­plays Wed­nes­day at the Phoenix Art Mu­seum.

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