Moving forward, looking back explores the Spanish legacy found along the Old Spanish Trail, a route that was envisioned to link the colonial outposts of New Mexico and California.
During 2014, I travelled across the Southwest in the footsteps of merchant Antonio Armijo, who guided the first recorded expedition between New Mexico and California in 1829. During my travels in Orwell, a 1984 RV that became my home and modern day mule, I interviewed many Spanish descendants exploring how the traditions of the first settlers have merged with domestic cultures and have influenced the creation and identity of today’s pueblos and modern cities. Orwell acted as a portable studio and as a meeting place from which I engaged with the descendants that I encountered along the way. I took their portrait and recorded their oral histories to reveal traces of the intangible heritage that remains across these states.
The Old Spanish Trail was an arduous pack mule trail that flourished in the 19th century allowing early merchants from both regions to engage in trade within a vast and imposing environment. Approximately 1200 miles long, landscapes have evolved from the times when blankets and quilts were exchanged for mules and horses, and the perceived distances have substantially shortened since the original caravans, which traveled around 15 miles a day, have been replaced with the speed of modern transportation.