In July 2012, I traveled to Rio Rico, AZ to install a very special series of cardboard cutouts in the desert. The Desert Project experience was necessary in order to understand for myself, beyond the media's coverage, the realities of the hostile, national issue. As an American-born child of Mexican Immigrants, The Desert Project is my way of honoring those who have made, as well as those who never completed, the treacherous trip through the unforgiving desert.
As I traveled around the desert with friends and family who came to help me install my cardboard cutouts, we came upon the recurring scene of clothes, backpacks and other item's left behind by migrants on their journey.
We set out on the trip to Rio Rico, AZ, an hour drive south of Tucson, AZ along the border with Nogales, Mexico. Upon arriving, I immediately set out to practice setting up the composition in the desert.
This figure was the most important in the composition to convey the Mother's determination to see the journey through safely. Her body language is strong, standing tall and holding her child away from the solemn scene. It is her determination,in the face of unimaginable odds, that will keep the group going.
In the composition, I needed to express visually the generations that rest on the dangerous decision to cross the desert. A pregnant, migrant woman is not only carrying her immediate child, but also that of every subsequent generation stemming from her and hanging on the delicate balance of her survival.
I added the second man holding a hat and looking away from the scene. His image was necessary to express the grief that comes with the loss of a loved one. He is purposely one of the outer most subjects in the composition, his body language was intended to express the need to get away from the reality before him.