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Along the Migrant Trail

Michael Hyatt | Arizona, Mexico & United States

1. Praying For a Safe Journey - Altar, Sonora 2005

Along the Migrant Trail abstract: This series of thirty social documentary photographs, covering every year from 2003 through 2018, bears witness to the migratory passage of undocumented men, mothers and children attempting to cross vast danger filled stretches of the Sonora Desert in northern Mexico and southern Arizona. Humanitarian activists, appalled by hundreds of annual deaths, work to save lives and relieve suffering by patrolling in cars and on foot with water, food and medical supplies. Volunteers also work to humanize border policies, protest unfair practices and to memorialize those whose lives were lost along the migrant trail.

In October 2002 I began documenting the efforts of Humane Borders, the volunteer organization that places water stations in the desert to help prevent migrant deaths, and lobbies for more humane border policy. A year later I began photographing the humanitarian work of Samaritans, and then the efforts of the No More Deaths coalition when it formed. During this period I was invited to photograph Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument west of Tucson on the U.S./Mexico border for the Desert Places book series published by the University of Arizona Press. In August 2004 the book Organ Pipe – Life On The Edge was published. It is exclusively illustrated with fifteen of my photographs, mostly landscapes and wildlife. Publication of the book led to a commission from the University of Arizona Special Collections, associated with The Center for Creative Photography, to produce a limited edition box set of photographs. The Center was exhibiting box sets by Edward Weston, Paul Strand and Ansel Adams at the time. My limited edition box set, titled Along the Migrant Trail, contains thirteen gelatin silver prints sized 4” X 5” displayed in a jewel box with a cover sleeve, list of photographs, and a booklet describing the work illustrated with three more photographs. In May 2007 Cultural Geographer Juanita Sundberg and I were awarded a University of British Columbia Hampton Research Fund Grant titled Documenting New Cultural Landscapes of Immigration in the United States-Mexico Borderlands. Also in May 2007 Great Circle Books in Los Angeles published my monograph Migrant Artifacts: Magic & Loss in the Sonoran Desert. In April 2008 the book, in the category of Art, was an award winner in the annual Eric Hoffer Independent Book Publishing Award competition. Through art patronage The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona purchased four photographs included in Migrant Artifacts, the box set Along the Migrant Trail, the photographs Cottonwood Tree at Quitobaquito Springs 2004 and Cousins – Union Victoria, Guatemala 2016. I continue to document humanitarian efforts in the Arizona desert.

A 2017 exhibition titled Human Rights in the Americas at West Chester University in Pennsylvania included my Arizona, Guatemala and Cuba work. Thirty seven images, mostly from Migrant Artifacts: Magic & Loss in the Sonoran Desert, were recently exhibited at Hudson Museum – University on Maine.

Humane Borders, Tucson Samaritans & No More Deaths

Michael Hyatt: 44450 E. Cooper Circle, Tucson AZ 85711, mhyatt2@mindspring.com , 520-971-2116, www.michael-hyatt.com

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