Land Arts of the American West artists worked with Borderlands Restoration Network guest writer Francisco Cantú and visitng artist Karima Walker to explore militarization of the US/Mexico Border and the subsequent violence which occurs when landscapes, plants, animals, and humans are valued only for their economic contribution to the global capitalist market. For a week, LAAW base-camped at Borderlands Restoration Headquarters in Patagonia, Arizona with day trips out to investigate the US/Mexico Border Wall in Nogales and historic stands of Agave parryi and palmeri in the Madrean Sky Island Archipelago. The group discussed migratory pollinators, agave ecology, watershed restoration, and the cultural significance of rural land-based practices. Towards the end of the week, LAAW artists worked with Borderland Restoration Network botanists to transplant over 100 Agave palmeri at the Patagonia Wildlife Corridor. Focusing on the interrelationships between endangered bats and agave, loss of land and habitat, climate change, and current pressures to industrialize traditional Mexican home-brews (Bacanora, Mezcal, Lechuguilla) for gentrified markets, LAAW created a multimedia installation and interactive exhibition reflecting on relationships between bats, borders, agave, and humans.

Borderlands Restoration Network, Patagonia, AZ

Partners and collaborators:

Land Arts of the American West

Borderlands Restoration Network

Francisco Cantú

Karima Walker

Patagonia Public Library

Guided by Francisco Cantú and Karima Walker, LAAW students visit the border wall in Nogales, Arizona.

Borderlands Restoration Network’s Allegra Mount shows LAAW students collections of threatened native plant seeds collected from the region.

Students visit a protected stand of agave on a restoration test site by Borderlands Restoration Network.

Borderand Restoration Network’s Program and Nursery Manager Francesca Claverie guides students through the process of transplanting nursery-grown agave palmeri at a site in the Patagonia Wildlife Corridor.

LAAW collaborates with Borderland Restoration Network’s Perin McNelis along with Francisco Cantú and Karima Walker to develop a one-night-only public exhibition at the Patagonia Public Library.

Representations of bats constructed from fallen agave leaves.

The exhibition “Bats Without Borders Agaveganza” featured sounds installations, story sharing, video projections and bat/agave sculptures.

Hand-drawn and collaged maps of endangered agave, bats, and human settlements were projected on the floor.