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ASU West Campus Border Justice Event, April 2009

During a Public Participation Gathering of diverse persons from the community June 25, 2008, Fair Trade Café, Phoenix, participants of the Cultural Arts Coalition proposed 3 public exhibitions to be mounted at ASU West, ASU Downtown campuses and the Fair Trade Café beginning January 2009. The purpose of these exhibitions was to promote dialogue amongst artists, researchers/professors, and viewers that could be examined and interpreted as well as documented. Dr. Kathryn Coe is the primary scholar to define the context of these exhibitions around the issue of Human Migration, specifically focusing on the border between Arizona and Mexico.

"Exodus", Oil painting by Góñez (24" X 8")
purchased in Mexico City, 1965, at a street market.

Marcelino Quiñónez with Kathryn Coe and Robert Miley

Dr. Kathryn Coe, University of Arizona, professor is the author of the book "Ancestress Hypothesis: Visual Arts as Adaptation".

Arizona visual artists whose roots go back generations intermingle with new transplants. The artists study life and local habitats, and by recording their experiences share them with all of us. Visual art has an enormous impact on our daily lives. It exposes a community to the ideas, stories and deeply felt emotions of others, breaking down barriers and stereotypes, thereby, and working toward promoting a more global vision.

The CAC was to provide a cross-pollination of activities amongst all artists, educators, activists, students and policymakers during this evolving planning process and exhibitions over the next 10 months.


ASU West professors: Dr. William Simmons , Dr. Carol Mueller, Dr. Luis Plascensia and Dr. Michael Stancliff along with community members meet in August to plan the focus of the Border Justice Event and Exhibition 2009

What are the powerful ideas around this critical inquiry process?

  • definition of systemic issues: not just who we are, but what we do
  • clarity of misconceptions and misrepresentations on both sides of the issue
  • unravel personal fears and seek to protect against personal intimidation
  • responsibility to present the historical context on the issue of local migration
  • explain the natural process of migration
  • focus on the due process of law for civil justice
  • competing values and human rights
  • utilize the arts, cultural value ideas and beliefs an a means of communication promoting learning opportunities
  • Build community relationship

Melanie Ohm, CAC, facilitates the first of these convening sessions. Jim Covarrubias, artist, and Bill Simmons. Jim worked with ALAC on all aspects discussed at these public planning processes.

We each have a VISION and a VOICE:

How can we engage arts and humanities experiences around our individual and combined work?
How do you want to be involved?
How do we engage kids and youth?
How do we move from the specific to the universal idea?
How do we build community in this total process?

These are all our challenges!

Malissa Geer, ASU DT campus Community Liaison Representative and judy butzine, co-founder and co-director of the CAC with Fernando Burman.

Beginning research to present this exhibition and decipher the myths from reality concerning immigration: invited citizens attended a reception by the Morrison Institute to engage Arizona's Community Leaders. The administration provides an opportunity to network around a document titled Forum 411—Immigration: From Global to Local to Kids. Forum 411 is a quarterly briefing series offering policy, business, education and community leaders’ vital information on Arizona's critical issue.

Forum 411 is presented by WESTCOR.

James Garcia, Playwright and Paul Espinosa, ASU Professor along with Malissa Geer and WESTCOR representative at Morrison Institute reception.

The ASU West Exhibition was mounted and open to the public January – April 2009, ASU West Fletcher Library

"Migration: Immigration, Giving Honor to Latina(o) Cultures and Communities"

The art exhibition was meant to raise awareness of migration issues in advance of the annual Border Justice event at ASU’s New College. The 2009 event, from March 31 through April 2, focused on “Crime, Justice and the Border.”

Purpose: Kathryn Coe, from U of A shares, "...DNA studies verify that everyone living today shares a common distant ancestor. All of us have ancestors who were migrants. The journeys of our ancestors can often be read in our DNA profile. Over time, the paths of migration moving away, and then folding back, have led to a significant mixing not only of DNA, but also of cultures..."

This statement framed the dialogue around the significant artworks contributed to this exhibition. The intention was that these visual expressions promoted conversations that led to shared understanding and increased participant knowledge.

Paintings by Ruben Galicia (Calaca)              and Francisco Garcia

It was assessed that the exhibition expanded opportunities for students, staff, faculty, elected officials and community guests to exchange ideas in both the classroom and in the public arena through the arts; to establish, strengthen and sustain partnership between ASU’s West campus and community organizations and members; and to serve as a vehicle to increase the university’s social embeddedness in the community at large.

This exhibition was presented in conjunction with ASU West’s Border Justice Event held from March 31 to April 2, 2009, under the guidance of William Paul Simmons, Director, MA in Social Justice and Human Rights, Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Engagement in the exhibition allowed the ASU West campus and the community to explore the concept of migration and community, while honoring the human story.

Artworks by Dennis Numkena of the Hopi people and Jorge Moreno

“The exhibition in Fletcher Library was wonderfully moving and provocative,” says William Simmons, an ASU associate professor of social and behavioral sciences and coordinator of the Border Justice series. “It’s a fantastic combination of eye-catching, thought-provoking works by some of the leading artists in the Valley, as well as some new voices that deserve to be heard.”

'Crime, Justice, Border event features scholars, artists, activists -- March 31, 2009 - April 02, 2009 - A Public Event

Complex and controversial issues of crime, enforcement, security, and human rights came into focus during the “Crime, Justice, and the Border” event held March 31 through April 2 at Arizona State University’s West campus.  A panel discussion on community Development through the Arts was held April 3 at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

The sixth annual Border Justice Event at the West campus drew together leading experts from Mexico and the United States in a public forum format that is a hallmark of the campus’s culture. Central to the event was a multi-part policy symposium on “Violence and Human Rights Crises along the Border.”

This year’s arts component also invited audience participation. Organizer and artist judy butzine of the Cultural Arts Coalition facilitated “I’m Migration,” an interactive art project. “It’s a rare opportunity for audiences to explore border issues creatively at an experiential level,” said Michael Stancliff, a New College assistant professor of rhetoric. “This year’s arts offerings are particularly rich.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday of the three day symposium, an interactive process with live music and the opportunity to paint one’s interpretations of resolve to the border justice issues was available for all on the main plaza in front of the library.

“Crime, Justice, and the Border” organizers believe the serious public conversations these events offer come at a critical moment in the history of our border region. “Just as local headlines are documenting disputes between federal and county officials regarding the proper way to enforce immigration laws, this is a critical time to examine questions including how public perceptions of criminality influence immigration policy,” says Simmons, who has directed or co-directed the annual border justice series since its inception in 2003.

Five questions were asked of those who wished to engage in this element of critical inquiry.

Following the answering of questions the participants were asked to write an intention for resolve concerning immigrant and border issues and place it in one of the Ojos De Dios to then carry the message up to the heavens.

“The U.S.-Mexico border represents different things to different people,” Stancliff says. “For some, it’s a bridge to a new life; for others it’s a wall not to be penetrated by outsiders. And for many who have experienced its dark side, the border is a birthplace of crime, violence, and human rights abuses.”

Those college students assisting with engaging persons in dialogue: Silvia Rodriguez, Dulce Juarez and Francisco Garcia.

Not only was there tabling by various groups, but entertainment was arranged by Charis Elliott, Founder and C0-Director of Las Otras Hermanas, a clothing coop for women in Juarez.

This interactive artwork was at the entrance to the main conference rooms. It was created by Courtney Anderson and Grace Daniels, graduating seniors. Grace directs Amnesty International at ASU West campus.

Along with the symposium’s scholarly conversations, interactive theatrical productions, film, and an interactive art project will provide engaging opportunities for audience participation. Award-winning playwright and ASU faculty member James Garcia’s participatory drama, “Operation Wetback,” explores the 1954 mass deportation of Mexican immigrants. New York City-based theater troupe Houses on the Moon will present an interactive performance, “De Novo Part I: Lil’ Silent,” which brings to the stage true stories of undocumented youth in United States custody.

James facilitates this interactive production on the lawn.

Adds Simmons, “Our goal is to inform and educate the public while encouraging dialogue about immigration, smuggling, underground economies, human trafficking, drug wars and border violence. These issues have a profound impact on Arizona.”

Bill brings his class outside and joins Malissa Geer in conversation.

Children were welcomed in this space as well.

All events associated with “Crime, Justice, and the Border” were free and open to the public. Events occurred at ASU’s West campus, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road.  Matt Crum,,(602) 543-5209, Public Affairs at the West campus