The New Arizona Prize:
Water Public Art Challenge

The Water Public Art Challenge invites you to propose a temporary public art project that creatively educates the public about the influence of the Huhugam ingenuity that first brought water to the Valley of the Sun.

What is the Water Public Art Challenge? 

The Water Public Art Challenge was the third prize offered under The New Arizona Prize banner. The prize offered awards of $50,000 to the top five collaborative teams proposing temporary public art projects that build connectivity between cultures through creative expression.

The finalist submissions were judged on their ability to illustrate how their art project honors the legacy of the ancestral Sonoran Desert people (Huhugam), whose irrigation engineering and agricultural achievements laid the foundation for the very existence of life in the Valley of the Sun. 

Experts representing the arts sector and Native American cultures helped shape this challenge, with many serving as active participants in the review process.

Winners will bring inspiring public art to the Valley

The Water Public Art Challenge received many impressive proposals for temporary public art projects located throughout the Valley of the Sun. Among the 14 finalist teams, five were named as winners during a celebration and showcase on November 7, 2018. 

Each collaborative team is working to bring their creative vision to life, transforming extensive proposals into installations open to the public. Arizona Republic Editorial Director Phil Boas shared his view on the winning projects and how they recognize an important but often overlooked chapter of Arizona's history.

City of Mesa | Water=Life
Making the Invisible Visible

Making the Invisible Visible project rendering


Adjacent to the Salt River and a Mesa wastewater reclamation plant, Riverview Park was once the site of 10+ Hohokam canals that nourished the ancestral Sonoran Desert people who built them. Through Making the Invisible Visible, a team of artists will collaborate with local communities through art-making/creative practice to make palpable the legacy of canals that ran there, creating an immersive pathway/multidisciplinary experience evoking the power of water in our lives, past, present, and future.

Scottsdale Arts
A Deeper Map

As part of its annual November 2019 Canal Convergence public art event, Scottsdale Public Art, a division of Scottsdale Arts, will debut A Deeper Map, a public art project illuminating the area’s ancient past using a map-based mobile app in concert with a web-based storytelling platform. By combining the ancient arts of cartography and storytelling with technology, current residents of the Valley will gain a fresh understanding of the deep human history of our area.

The Continuum
Su:dagi Haicu A:ga (Water's Story)

Su:dagi Haichu Agga Project rendering

Our installment celebrates the rich and diverse heritage of our Ancestors, incorporating artistic expression, education, history, language, and ancient techniques applicable for use today. The educational components will be paired beautifully with four large murals depicting events and actions related to items on display and the creation of the ancient canal system, a system still in use today. The technological achievements in agriculture and hydrology, will be celebrated accurately in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Vesich eth ve:m (All of Us Together)
We Are Still Here

We Are Still Here project rendering

Our team of Medio Completo artists, Audubon Arizona, and the Huhugam Heritage Center will weave together stories of Huhugam history and continued connection to the river, recent human migration leading to the growth of the Salt and Gila River Valley, and the birds and wildlife who depend on these rivers. This multi-disciplinary, experiential art event will allow us to have a community conversation about our complex history with these rivers, our water future, and one another.

Water Heritage Collective
Portal to the Past

A cut metal gate and fence adorned with a plethora of prehistoric, historic, and plant motifs will welcome visitors through the new entrance to Pueblo Grande Museum from Canalscape--the new trail along the historic Grand Canal. An accompanying smartphone app featuring informational and personal stories, which celebrate the uniqueness of the irrigation engineering and agricultural achievements of the Ancestral Sonoran Desert people, will engage and educate a new audience.