October 10, 2012

Cement Lake Collaborative

Sights, Sounds, and Stories from Cement Lake in Buena Vista, El Paso, Texas
Jeanette Hart-Mann

Shoreline of Cement Lake, Buena Vista (photo Jeanette Hart-Mann)

      Land Arts of the American West spent October 1st - 5th, 2012 in Buena Vista, El Paso, Texas, exploring the sights, sounds, stories, and politics surrounding an accidental wetland, called Cement Lake.  Guest artists Chrissie Orr and Roberto Salas, along with Buena Vista community resident Armando Carlos led the students on this multifaceted exploration, as they collaborated on three distinct modes of investigation: community engagement, ecological survey, and political evaluation.

Guest artist Chrissie Orr with community resident Armando Carlos
 at Monument #1, US/Mexico Border. (photo Jeanette Hart-Mann)

     Chrissie Orr and Armando Carlos, led the community engagement group, which included: Lea Andersson, Celia McKinnon, Eso Robinson, and Heike Qualitz.  They visited residents of BuenaVista, who shared historic stories of Cement Lake.  Some of the stories included its use as a reservoir for industry, a big fish catch, intentional draining, and continuous percolation from a newly sourced spring, refilling the lake and keeping the accidental wetland alive and a part of the Buena Vista community.

Andy shares his stories of Cement Lake with student, Celia McKinnon. (photo Heike Qualitz)

      Roberto Salas and Bill Gilbert, along with students Marne Elmore, KB Jones, and Amelia Zaraftis, met with Cemex representatives, city officials, and a district representative to hear more about the Cement Lake property and future plans for this site.

Cemex property manager, Arturo took the crew over to look at
the lake in proper MSHA safety attire.  (photo Ryan Henel)
Green Boyz tag at the Cement Lake. (photo Ryan Henel)

    The ecological survey group, including Emily Vosburgh, Eric Cook, Katelyn Deluca, Jeff Nibert, and Jeanette Hart-Mann, creatively explored the site by following the water flows from the spring seep with underwater video and photographing the flora and fauna inhabiting this site.  Soundscapes were also collected, along with water and soil specimens.

The ecological survey group sends the video camera underwater
at the spring seep. (photo Jeanette Hart-Mann)
Bee pollinating willow flowers at Cement Lake. (photo Jeanette Hart-Mann)

     At the end of the week, all the groups gathered to share presentations from their individual inquiries. These presentations included personal stories from Buena Vista residents, along with information from meetings with city officials and Cemex representatives, and a video compilation of the ecological survey.

Marne Elmore checks out the water and soil specimens.  (photo Jeanette Hart-Mann)

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