Documentary & Art Exhibit Address Native Communities & Water

Dec. 15, 2020

"Parched" documentary and exhibit discusses Southwest water crisis

Arizona’s Flagstaff Arts Council hosted the Parched Documentary Film Premiere online on Dec. 10 to address water problems. 

The documentary goes behind-the-scenes of the art installation “Parched: The Art of Water in the Southwest” to show how it was created.

The art installation opened on Sept. 11 at the Coconino Center for the Arts and was created by eight Arizona-based artists. The installation explores water as it relates to climate change, increasing populations, and inequities, according to NAU News. 

The documentary along with a virtual exhibit that launched and was developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by engaging people with the artists and their work in a virtual setting. The documentary provides an inside look on the art exhibit, which gave the artists an opportunity to speak about the water crisis and explain their pieces.

“We wanted ‘Parched’ not only to educate, but to offer people an emotional connection to water,” said Jane Marks, a producer and professor of biological sciences and researcher at the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss) at NAU. “Water in the Southwest has long been a source of concern and conflict. Understanding these tradeoffs and conflicts requires people to appreciate multiple aspects of water.”

“Although much of Colorado River’s watershed includes Native lands, 30% of people on the reservations don’t have safe drinking water,” Marks added.

Many of the artists emphasized the perspectives of the Native communities to bring more awareness to the environmental injustices they face, particularly as it relates to water, reported NAU News. 

The documentary was produced by Ecoss in collaboration with the Flagstaff Arts Council and funded by The National Endowment for the Arts, National Science Foundation and Arizona Humanities. Marks; Joshua Biggs, marketing manager of the Marketing Department; Neal Galloway; lecturer in the School of Art; Debra Edgerton, assistant professor in the School of Art; and Jani Ingram, professor of chemistry and biochemistry also contributed to the project, reported NAU News.

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