ALAN STENBACK PHOTOGRAPHY

ALAN STENBACK PHOTOGRAPHY

Traveling through Mexico always sparks inspiration for novel and offbeat projects.

This small project began with a simple mobile shot and quickly turned into an obsession. I’ve photographed agaves before, but never with such intention.

These are the first images in what I’m hoping will be many.

Like many of us, I’ve enjoyed the spirits derived from these plants for decades—sometimes in excess. But we’ll keep that between friends. What’s sparked my Agave obsession lately is learning how much more there is to this amazing plant.

As my journey with the agave deepens, I’m uncovering fascinating aspects that many may not know.

One of the most intriguing is the presence of a worm, or gusano, found in some bottles of mezcal. This worm is the larva of a moth that lives on the agave plant. Its inclusion in the bottle serves not only as a mark of authenticity but also ties deeply to local lore, suggesting that the worm imparts strength to those who consume it.

 Beyond spirits, the agave plant serves as a source for two distinctive types of paper.

The first, known as papel amate, is crafted from the outer skin of the agave and has been used in Mesoamerica for centuries, primarily for spiritual and decorative purposes.

The second type, more utilitarian, is made from the fibrous residue left after the sap is extracted. This paper has a rough texture, ideal for more robust applications like packaging. 

Speaking of sap, the agave’s role in the production of Pulque—an ancient beverage predating even tequila and mezcal—cannot be overlooked.

Pulque is made by fermenting the raw sap of the agave, known as aguamiel, or “honey water.” This milky, slightly foamy drink is a staple in rural Mexican diets. It’s also a living tradition that connects modern-day Mexico to its pre-Columbian past. And I now can attest, it’s quite tasty.

Each of these uses of agave reflects the deep interconnection between the plant and Mexican culture. They tell stories of survival, tradition, and innovation. Through this project, I aim to honor the artistry, legacy, and ongoing cultural significance of the agave in Mexican life.

Like what you see? Enjoy what you read? Your support means a lot. I invite you to connect with me on social media. And yes, of course you can display my artwork in your space. Visit my online gallery today at https://shop.alanstenbackphotography.us