Water Conversations – New Mexico, USA

Atomic Journeys: New Mexico Banner Project

#1. Red Water Pond Road Community Banner. 

As part of Santa Fe Art Institute, Water Rights residency, New Mexico. USA. 1st February – 27th April 2017. Red Water Pond Road, Church Rock, Navajo Nation, New Mexico. USA.

Red Water Pond Road, Church Rock, Navajo Nation, New Mexico. USA.

 “New Mexico Banner Project’ is a series of hand made embroidered banners relating to the nuclear industry in New Mexico from uranium mining in western New Mexico, to weapons making at Los Alamos and the subsequent dumping of depleted material at Carlsbad. 

Context for Red Water Pond Road Community banner: 

The Red Water Pond Road Community Association ( RWPRCA) is a grassroots organisation of Navajo Nation families who have experienced and lived with the impacts of uranium mining and milling in the Church Rock mining area since the 1940’s. The community hosts the annual Uranium Legacy, Remembrance and Action Day, a day of protest, awareness raising and memorial that takes place on the 16th July, the anniversary of the 1979 Church Rock Uranium Spill (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_Rock_uranium_mill_spill) This industrial accident, the largest release of radioactive material in US history, occurred when a tailings disposal pond on the United Nuclear Corporation (UNC) Mill Site breached its dam wall spilling millions of gallons of solid and liquid radioactive waste downstream through the Puerco River and 130km of Navajo Nation Tribal Trust lands.  In addition to organising the Uranium Legacy, Remembrance and Action Day, RWPRCA lobby politicians to raise awareness of uranium mining and its impacts on communities.  

Banner design workshop: 

The Red Water Pond Road banner was designed through a co-hosted a banner design workshop at the RWPRCA headquarters with artists Holly Keasey (UK) and Courtney Leonard ( Shinnecock Nation, NY). The aim of this workshop was to develop a design for a banner to be hand made by me as a gift of solidarity to the community for use at future commemorative, lobbing and protest events. The workshop was attended by up to twenty Red Water Pond Road community members and the design ratified by the community elders.

The completed embroidered banner (214 x 107 cm) was delivered to the RWPRCA community on the 20th April 2017.

With many thanks to RWPRCA leaders, Bertha Nez, Edith Hood and Teracita Keyanna and members of the Red Water Pond Road Community, Susan Gordon, MASE (Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment) https://swuraniumimpacts.org/, Holly Keasey and Courtney Leonard. 

Photos: Jenn Meridian, Courtney Leonard, Anna Macleod.

The residency at SFAI was made possible through an Individual Artist Bursary from Leitrim County Council, Ireland and the Arts Council of Ireland, Travel and Training Award. 

ECO/ART/SCOT/LAND blog post: Holly Keasey and Anna Macleod: ‘An Atomic Journey’

Images from the workshop: