by Paula Fierros & Daniela Moreno
On Saturday, Feb. 3, in Room T-12, graphic design teacher Mr. Ernesto Somoza held a meeting promote a project called “Borderlands”. Since then, he has organized and orchestrated other meetings—all leading up to an April 21 trip to the U.S.-Mexico border.
In February, six local artists attended the meeting and shared the same enthusiasm as Somoza, as well as their experiences in the field of art, specifically on and about the border.
“Our mission for this project is to help the students interact with the community and focus on the seriousness of the border,” Somoza said. “Beautiful art work is needed to change the ugliness of the border.”
The first artist to speak was Pueblo alumni Ruben Romero, from the Class of 1994; he donated pieces of his artwork, which contain a lot of political and cultural symbolism.
Romero said, “It is important to fuel the fire for the next generation of activists and to shine the light on human cruelty.”
A group of activists known as Derechos Humanos (Human Rights) with three representatives spoke about the way they have dealt with controlling of immigration and the border.
“What our group does is represent the rights every immigrant that crosses the border has,” said spokesperson Rachel Garcia. “Our group has a tradition where we have a pilgrimage to San Xavier carrying crosses that we made with the names of dead people found in the Arizona desert border towns—which is known as The Disappeared Art Project, and we lay the crosses down in front of San Xavier.”
Mr. Alfred Quiroz, an art professor at the University of Arizona, recalls several experiences with artists to create a more “aesthetically pleasing” border. However, in 2010, he was forced to remove the pieces due to the reconstruction of the border.
“A funny story is that I went to Nogales, and I saw my art,” Quiroz said. “I noticed it was little crooked, so I went to fix it, and an older man across the street yelled at me not touch the art. I explained to him that I was one of the artists who created that piece, and I asked him why he yelled at me. He responded that everyone from around there loved the art. It built the community’s unity.”
The last speaker was a former Pueblo student/artist, Hecho Diaz.
He said, “I came to this school [Pueblo] but was kicked out.”
Diaz said that he later became a graffiti “writer”, and he is also a graphic designer who has worked with big companies, creating graphics for them. He remains fervid about his community using his social media platform.
“I have seen and experienced things but the border is ridiculous, this country was built by immigrants,” Diaz said. “The border is a representation of how America feels about the Mexicans.”
Somoza said that the theme of the competition will be butterflies, and anyone who chooses to attend the event will be able to put these magnetic butterflies on the border wall—as well as project their artwork on the border wall.
He added that the butterflies are a metaphor—as they are creatures who migrate from the South to the North for better weather, “Immigrants migrate for a better life, too,” Somoza said.
The art competition ended on March 24. The first place winner received $300, and his/her art will be projected onto the border April 21 in Nogales, Ariz., with the following longitude N. 31 and latitude 19.998 W 110 54 651, along with all submissions near the Hudgen’s abandoned courthouse.
Somoza suggested that those wanting to attend this event should leave Tucson at 5:30 p.m. in order to arrive in Nogales at approximately 6:30 p.m. He added that if people have questions about this event, they should contact him ASAP in Room T-12. Somoza said that he is also providing transportation to the border wall for students with permission slips and approval—pending district approval.
If anyone is interested in submitting art, please email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Representative Raúl Grijalva (D) has publicly acknowledged his approval of this project and may attend the event on April 21.