Visioning the Ogallala Aquifer on the Llano Estacado

Landmark Gallery, TTU School of Art
March 25-April 24, 2022
Museum of Post-Agriculture at At'l Do Farms in Shallowater, TX

Permanent Installation - ongoing presentation

The Tap
Image Courtesy M12 Studio, THE TAP, Landmark Arts, Texas Tech University. Arthur Rothstein. Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress, LC-USF34-004106-E. 2022.

The Tap is an artwork and gallery installation by M12 Studio presented by Landmark Arts at Texas Tech University. A meditation on the Ogallala Aquifer at the Llano Estacado, The Tap takes us on a subterranean journey through time and space, sound and vision. 

One of the largest aquifers in the world, the Ogallala lies beneath eight states, a footprint that is home to some of the oldest species on the planet—bison, sandhill cranes, pronghorn antelope and others. As part of the Great Plains, this area was once an American Serengeti, a landscape full of life and diversity from fields to the flyways. Today, the Ogallala region is mostly farm and ranch land. Challenges here now include aquifer recharge which is prevented by drought combined with relentless large-scale farming practices.

In the Ogallala region, people depend on the sustained health of the aquifer below. The water's health is reflected in the build environment, as well as in our economic, natural, and spiritual livlihoods. Communities in the region are feeling the consequences of being out of balance with the living world beneath us. The Tap challenges viewers to think overtly and relationally about this water, about sustainable futures in our communities and throughout our commons. 

Beyond the gallery…
In addition to the Landmark Gallery, The Tap can be experienced at At'l Do Farms, in Shallowater, TX, where M12 Studio has a permanent installation of a cast polished brass water tap.

The Tap at Tablelands

Special thanks to J. Eric Simpson's Museum of Post-Agriculture at At'l Do Farms. Guided presentations are available by contacting

The Tap

M12 Studio is a group of award-winning artists, researchers, and writers collectively based in Colorado. Primarily known for art projects that explore public space, rural cultures and landscapes, M12 holds a unique position as both a non-profit arts organization and an artistic practice. M12 creates artworks, research projects, and education initiatives centered around context and place. The studio blends multiple fields, allowing research, fieldwork, design and site-specific sculpture to merge. Projects of M12 have appeared in THE magazine, Santa Fe, NM 5280, Denver, CO The Rural: Documents of Contemporary Art, Whitechapel Gallery, London, (2019, MIT Press), Undermining: A Wild Ride Through Land Use, Politics, and Art in the Changing West (2014, The New Press, Lucy R. Lippard) and What is a Western? (2019, Oklahoma University Press, Josh Garrett-Davis) along with others. Members of the collaborative who worked on The Tap for Landmark Arts include Margo Handwerker, Chris Sauter, Richard Saxton, Trent Segura, and Aaron Treher.

News & Interviews about The Tap:

May 1, 2023: Shallowater Communion - M12's "The Tap". Megan McKenzie for

November 2022: The Tap at Tablelands Center for Bioregional Art.

5 April 2022: "Landmark Arts Gallery at Texas Tech Presents 'The Tap'". Lucy Greenberg for Texas Tech Today.

11 March 2022: "12 Southwest Art Exhibitions to Check Out in Spring 2022." Southwest Contemporary‘s handy roundup of choice spring 2022 art exhibitions includes shows in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. 

25 February 2022: "Collective Cosmos: M12 Studio on Rural Territories and Common Resources" by Natalie Hegert for Southwest Contemporary.

The Tap: M12 Studio

Landmark Arts exhibitions and speaker programs in the Texas Tech University School of Art are made possible in part with a generous grant from the Helen Jones Foundation of Lubbock. Additional support comes from Cultural Activities Fees administered through the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts.Additional funding for The Tap has come from the Ryla T. & John F. Lott Endowment for Excellence in the Visual Arts, administered through the School of Art and the Still Water Foundation, Austin, Texas.Special thanks to J. Eric Simpson and At'l Do Farms, Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University, Johnathan Pool and Weston Drilling, and the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 for their assistance in providing materials for the exhibition.

Related exhibitions and events included:

School of Art South Gallery, March 21 – April 10, 2022
Exhibition of drawings produced by students in various student groups: Drawing I (ART 1303), Art, Environment, Sustainability (ART 4303/ART 5304) and Developing Reactive Engineers through Artful Methods (CE 5331-050/ENGR 5000-050).

Perspectives on Water on the Llano Estacado: 54th Annual Comparative Literature Symposium
Various Lubbock venues, March 31-April 2, 2022