Over the last decade, thousands of undocumented migrants have died attempting to enter the United States from Mexico. The desert of southern Arizona, with its extreme environmental conditions, has been the site of “ consistently high ” death tolls.
Migrants face hypothermia, heat stroke and dehydration as they attempt to enter the U.S., and those who perish along the way frequently go unidentified . The personal items they carried are often left along the border , alongside other items abandoned by their owners during the dangerous trek.
Tucson, Arizona, native Jody Ipsen hopes to change how these people are remembered. She created the “ Migrant Quilt Project ,” an ongoing art installation series featuring memorial quilts made from discarded clothing left in areas where migrants, many of them from Central America, are known to rest and take shelter during their desert crossing. Wilson Graham Photography Ipsen and a team of volunteers have made one quilt a year since 2000. Every work includes the names of the migrants who died that year; the word “unknown” or “desconocido” is used to designate an unidentified person.
To find the items used in the project, volunteers scour the desert along the Tucson border sector looking for abandoned campsites. When they find a site with items left behind, they dispose of the trash and recyclables and repurpose clothing that’s still in good condition ― blue jeans, bandanas, work shirts and embroidered cloths.
The creators avoid using items believed to have belonged to a person who has died. And […]