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Cement lake Collaboratives

Barrio Buena Vista, El Paso, TX - 2012

Artist Chrissie Orr, along with Armando Carlos of the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association, and Roberto Salas of Centro Artistico y Cultural, lead collaborative investigations with Land Arts, into the accidental wetland at the edge of Buena Vista, called Cement Lake. Collaborative Land Arts teams, work around three conceptual and physical sites: the Buena Vista community history of Cement Lake, led by Chrissie Orr and Armando Carlos, a survey of Cement Lake’s environment and inhabitants, led by Research Assistant Professor, Jeanette Hart-Mann, and land use, ownership, and political territories, led by Professor, Bill Gilbert and Roberto Salas. Students set out to conduct field research at Cement Lake, listen to stories from residents, and talk to Cemex and the City of El Paso about future possibilities of the site. After a week of research, collaborative groups generate and perform multi-media presentations on site in Buena Vista.

Land Arts of the American West
Cement Lake with migrating waterfowl and rich environemental habitats.

Journal Entry

Katelyn Deluca
October 2012

So many noises here, many more than other towns I’ve been to. Trains rush down their tracks at night seemingly breaking the sound barrier. The view from Roberto’s studio is wonderful, I even like all the woven power lines that cut the sky into pieces. People are so nice here, everyone I’ve met has been so welcoming. Investigating the “wetlands” is my daily task. I’ve stumbled upon a treasure there, the source of the spring which feeds this place. The water is so clear and beautiful and a small fish swims against the current of the water as it flows out from underground. We follow it down, trudging through grasses, then mud, then water, then bushes. The thicket was our enemy and occasionally threw us off course, but we made sure to document every part of the water’s journey. Jeff and I feel like explorers, well, at least I do. We followed the water’s path until it dove underground, moving trough the earth and finding the Rio Grande. We’ve learned so much on this journey and in this place and I am looking forward to revisiting it.

Land Arts of the American West
Land Arts begins the environmental survey of Cement Lake by identifying the percolation site of the spring fed lake.

Land Arts of the American West
Water and soil samples are collected and diverse life forms documented.

Land Arts of the American West
Chrissie Orr, Armando Carlos, and Land Arts students visit with Buena Vista resident, Mary Fuero, who shares her memories of Cement Lake.

Land Arts of the American West
Cemex manager, Arturo Pastrana takes Land Arts on a tour of Cement Lake, with proper MSHA safety wear.