"Acequia Aqui: Water, Community and Creativity," by the Paseo Project



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Storytelling and Poetry is the second installment of our Starting Conversations: Acequia Aqui series. As part of our partnership with The Paseo Project (Taos, NM), this discussion series is celebrating Paseo Project’s recent publication: Acequia Aqui: Water, Community and Creativity. This booklet highlights selections from the Acequia Aqui project that took place between 2018 and 2020. It’s an artistic and community driven project that aims to give voice to the historic acequias of Taos to illuminate the importance of this vital resource and cultural wellspring. You can view a digital version of this booklet on ISSU.

Our three guests, Elizabeth Hellstern, Rica Maestas, and Andrea Watson, have come together to talk about their individual work in Acequia Aqui and how their interventions made use of language, oral history traditions, and folklore to celebrate the acequias of Taos and ensure their preservation.


Elizabeth Hellstern is a writer and an artist working to make word interactive. Her artwork includes national placements of the public art installation the Telepoem Booth?, where members of the public can dial-a-poem on a phone in a vintage phone booth. She is the author of the experimental poetry flow-chart series, How to Live: A Suggestive Guide from Tolsun Books and the editor of and contributor to Telepoem Booth? Santa Fe: Collected Calls and Telepoem Booth?: Missed Calls and Other Poetry both from SkyHeart Editions. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Northern Arizona University. Her multi-genre writing work has appeared in journals such as Hotel Amerika, American Journal of Poetry, Slag Glass City, The Tusculum Review, New World Writing and Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts. Her creative projects have received funding from the Knight Foundation, New Mexico Humanities Council, Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, Iowa Humanities, and National Endowment for the Humanities. She lives in Cerrillos, NM and is currently working on a memoir.

Rica Maestas is a burqueña artist, arts worker, dog parent, and social practitioner. Inspired by the desert, loneliness, hybridity, and misunderstanding, her artistic practice invites participants into surreal and emotionally demanding spaces, be they real or imaginary. She graduated with a MA in public humanities from Brown University in 2018, attending with the generous support of the University of Southern California Renaissance Scholarship, awarded for interdisciplinary study. She has curated independent, experimental exhibitions as well as institutional projects, received numerous grants for her creative work, published written ruminations in diverse forums, and exhibited visual art and performance pieces nationwide.

Andrea L. Watson is founding publisher and editor of 3: A Taos Press, a multicultural and ethically voiced publishing house. Andrea’s poetry has appeared in Nimrod, Rhino, Subtropics, Cream City Review, Ekphrasis, International Poetry Review, and The Dublin Quarterly, among others. She has designed and curated eighteen ekphrasis events of poetry and art across the United States, commencing with Braided Lives: A Collaboration Between Artists and Poets, sponsored by the Taos Institute of Arts, which traveled to Denver, San Francisco, and Berkeley. She is co-editor of the poetry anthology, Collecting Life: Poets on Objects Known and Imagined and Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai, the proceeds of which were donated to The Malala Fund for Girls’ Education from FutureCycle Press.


The Paseo Project works to transform art through community and community through art.