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'The Desertification Cookbook' brings new life to a dry wasteland

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Tuesday, April 19, 2022 - 1:02pm
Updated: Tuesday, April 19, 2022 - 2:49pm

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April Bojorquez and Matt Garcia
desert ArtLAB
April Bojorquez and Matt Garcia

Picture the most wasted, beat up, dry, dead piece of land in the desert you can think of. Now, take that land and start planting native vegetation in it — and watch it come back to life.

That’s what artists and founders of Desert ArtLAB Matt Garcia and April Bojorquez did six years ago on the worst piece of land they could find in Pueblo, Colorado. Now, it’s a productive, edible landscape — and a public art initiative they call, “The Desertification Cookbook.”

It’s a project that is set to span decades which brings together ideas about sustainability and life in the desert, with the important cultural histories that connect their people to the land.

And it’s part of the expansive exhibition currently showing at Arizona State University's Art Museum, “New Earthworks.”

It all began a decade ago when Garcia and Bojorquez were graduate students at ASU and the conversation around sustainability and climate change was just taking off. 

The Show spoke with Garcia to learn more about the project.

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