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The Border Project

June 14, 2008, Exhibition/Reception at Tohono O’odham Cultural Center, Sells, Arizona. A mixed media and reflective process in an installation that highlights the perspectives of high school students, living along a culturally and politically controversial border.

Morgana Wallace, a Curley School artist and teacher living in Ajo, Arizona, spent many weeks in three different art classrooms:

**Ajo High School (Ajo, Arizona)

**Tohono O’odham High School (Tohono O’odham Nation, Arizona)

**Cobach High School (Sonoyta, Mexico)

During these sessions Morgana and the students of very culturally diverse backgrounds generated discussion, drawings, writings and sculptures on their perceptions of the word ‘border’ and its relevance to their daily lives.

What is a border? What word comes to mind when you hear the word "border"? What borders have you crossed in your life?

SPECIFY: Who do you think of? What do you SEE? Where do you SEE it? How is it all happening?


This project intends to give a voice to our youth, a population whose future will be impacted by how we approach and resolve border issues today.

The overall goal reflects specifically the need and capacity for our youth to be a part of the decisions for their future.

This action response is in direct relationship to the Morrison Institutes research and documentation on this very issue:

1. One out of 3 Arizona children has at least one immigrant parent.

2. 80% of pre-K children of immigrants are U.S. citizens.

3. There are 471, 000 children in Arizona who are legal with at least one immigrant parent.

4. Immigrants will account for a bigger share of new workers in 2020 than native born citizens.

5. Immigrants today are learning English as quickly as those early in the 20th century.

Arizona has become a destination and an Immigration corridor for persons from around the world.These are the facts presented by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, ASU, Downtown Campus through a pamphlet titled Forum 411: Engaging Arizona’s Leaders, funded by Westcor on June 11, '08.

The written statements do not reflect the sentiment of the image of the person in the photograph above or below the quote.The point is these varied responses and points of view stimulated reflective, critical inquiry dialogue that helped to bring into the open- thoughtful and meaningful communication leading to potential resolve.

This project has already proven to be a powerful mechanism in empowering youth, raising community awareness, and creating understanding between three diverse cultures: Mexican, Tohono O’odham and Anglo.

The Cultural Arts Coalition intends to stage 3 public exhibitions next year in safe spaces that focuses on the theme of:
"Migration: Community Dialog and Visual Expression".

judy butzine, co-founder and co-director of the CAC spoke with Morgana about the possibility of providing a component of this exhibition to be woven into the 3 exhibitions for community dialogue in Phoenix beginning January 2009.

It is vital for the CAC to network and collaborate on thematic issues that are presented through varied artistic expressions dealing with community concerns.This is one of the goals of the CAC: Provide spaces and opportunities for persons to engage in dialogue, experiences, and research that expand the definition and understanding of the role of the arts in enriching our daily lives in community and academic settings.

The CAC’s first, General Planning Meeting for next year's events: Wed., June 25th at 10:00, Fair Trade Cafe, Phoenix (N.W. Corner, 1st Avenue and Roosevelt) conducted by Melanie Ohm, Dr. Kathryn Coe and judy butzine--ALL Welcome!!

Annie Loyd in her ongoing role in our community as spokeswoman for key issues of Human Rights and Civil Liberties had this discussion with Morgana as well.

Morgana explained that as an art education graduate she had never taught the arts with the purposefulness of focus that she did with this particular project.She was surprised at the capacity to unravel such significant and meaningful dialogues from youth through artistic expression while incorporating critical inquiry and problem solving techniques offered by multiple art making processes and written reflections.

Morgana will continue to work with the Border Project team:

Jewel Fraser Clearwater - Photographer

Connie Villaverde - Translator, Mexico Liaison

Ralph Hudson - Construction Advisor

Aaron Cooper - Technician

to create a means to travel this exhibition, and to continue to explore alternative subjects for this ongoing methodology of community building and education.

Please contact Morgana Wallace at

Or go online to the for more information.

A closing reception is planned where the students who created this art will attend on August 22, 2008.

This review would not be complete without providing the context for this exhibition:

1st Annual Himdag Ki: Celebration, June 14th, 2008
Verna’s Youth Dancers/Ge Oidag Singers

The singing and dancing was a communal activity engaging ALL!

The Day’s Celebration was given in recognition to the women of the community through their desert hockey tournament games that are still played today.

An old mission structure on the reservation

A shrine close to the church

It was an honor for us to share this SENSE OF PLACE and celebration for a few hours.

judy butzine, June 14, 2008: documenting community arts practices throughout the state that give meaning and significance to people’s lives and continuity of culture for all residents.