Alvaro Enciso is one of the most notable artists in the American Southwest. Among his other work, in recent years he has placed crosses to mark the deaths of more than 900 migrants in the Sonoran desert south of Tucson, each marked with a red dot, like the dots marking the thousands of deaths of immigrants on the “death maps” published by Humane Borders. This is his report from the borderlands earlier this week.
rich dillon, a glass artist, and a long time resident of benson, az, contacted me a few days ago to tell me that he had found a rarely-used dirt road that could take us to a migrant death site near the san pedro river. due to the corona virus i had suspended my weekly desert trips since march 17. i have been cooped up at home reading new york times notable books, like “the heavenly table”, a wonderful gritty novel by donald ray pollock, and listening to music i had not heard in years, such as “ragas and sagas” by jazz saxophonist jan garbareck with singer ustad fateh ali khan, and other musicians from pakistan.
we did take that dirt road to very sandy willow wash to where the skeletal remains of an unidentified male migrant were recovered on october 27, 2016. the pima county office of the medical examiner determined that the bones had been there 5 months. the cross rich and i planted this past tuesday is for this man, who had a name, a family looking for him, and all his dreams for a better life ended there. i took a photo of rich standing in the wash. the other photo is of “la rubia”, a beautiful bull snake that lives in my courtyard.
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