A SaludArte Update by Sadie Shaw
The meetings for SaludArte’s District Committees are almost complete, with Artists and Artist Teams selected for all five of Pima County’s Supervisory Districts. Within these meetings, community members with no previous experience as art panelists had the opportunity to learn about public art through the City of Tucson and Pima County’s public art collection and understand the responsibility and best practices when serving on an Artist selection panel. The Committees selected the Artists that they felt could best translate their community’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic into a temporary public artwork inspired by the community they serve.
Listening and Pivoting the SaludArte Process in Ajo, AZ
After reviewing the first round of submissions in District 3, the SaludArte Community Committee members in Ajo deemed it necessary to reopen the application cycle in order to increase the chances of identifying an artist that excelled in the criteria of having a “historic connection to this region.” Committee members revealed that during the pandemic years, construction of the border wall South of Ajo led to millions of dollars being funneled into the area without directly benefiting the Ajo community members. In our first meeting in Ajo, the community also shared their belief that one of the entry points for the COVID-19 virus entering their isolated community was the dispatching of construction workers from various parts of the country to work on the border wall construction. The majority of the Committee members in Ajo expressed concern that the cycle of trauma from the pandemic years would happen all over again if federal money coming into the area would not benefit the town, its people, or the Ajo arts community because there was only one Ajo artist in the first round of applicants. The SaludArte Team believes in the maxim, “Nothing about us, without us,” and one of the goals of the SaludArte project is to increase transparency and responsiveness from government and nonprofit programming and partnerships.
In order to honor the wishes and experience of the Ajo community – and to mitigate further harm – the SaludArte Team reopened the Call to Artists, encouraging members of Ajo and surrounding communities to apply. We also did more work in providing assistance for the application process by holding an application clinic in Ajo on May 4th to assist Artists that needed help with the process. We are proud to report that from these efforts, ten of the thirteen applications we received in the second call to artists in District 3 were from Artists living in Ajo as opposed to the single application from the first round. Ultimately, the SaludArte Committee members selected a local artist with deep roots and community connections to the Ajo area. Stay tuned for our next post, where we will reveal the selected SaludArte Artists for each District!