I was invited to paint in April at the Street Art Festival in Ajo, Arizona. Ajo is a cool place, just a small town that was built around a mine between 1912-1920, but is surrounded by federal BLM lands, Organ Pipe National Monument, Cabeza Prieta Wildlife refuge and the most bio-diverse desert in the world! Ajo is also located 40 miles from the U.S./Mexico border. This border is the deadliest stretch of land for migrants and refugees to cross. Lack of water and exposure claims almost 150 lives per year. I decided to go see for myself what kind of Samaritan work was being done on the border & paint a mural for the town to celebrate the effort to save lives.
Samaritans just do what is natural. They help those in need. They choose to NOT ignore their neighbors’ needs and do what they can every day to locate those suffering in the desert, bring water and food to them, and give them first aid. Seems very simple to me, but our government has actually charged Samaritans with felonies for doing this work. Scott Warren of Ajo, Arizona was facing 20 years in prison for aiding migrants who were dehydrated and lost. His trial resulted in a hung jury. Four of his jurors wanted to convict!
There are so many things we need to be doing about this situation. My skills are painting and caring about people. I also have a big mouth and haven’t stopped talking about Ajo since I returned. Maria Singleton (an Ajo homeowner and Samaritan who lives part time in Bellvue, Colorado) is the reason for my visit. She has a wonderful way of expressing the plight of the Migrants while also allowing us to find ways to get involved in our own ways.
We have prepared a talk about how art can open hearts to having conversation. It was well received at Artworks Loveland in June and many have gotten involved and requested that we do it again. We’d love to talk to your classroom, your church groups, or your organization. Art has a way of gently opening up the cracks where preconceived notions like to hide. There is no cost for this conversation, we just ask that you donate to Nomoredeaths.org.