Sanctus Sonorensis by Philip Zimmermann

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In December of 2004, I was driving back into the United States from Mexico through the Lukeville border road entrance. As I was traveling through the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument just inside Arizona, I was stopped for a couple of hours by several groups of men each consisting of a large number of heavily armed Border Patrol agents on some sort of special operations. They eventually lead out of the desert scrub a large number of illegal immigrants that had been hiding in the mesquite and cactus as they attempted to head north through the park. They clearly weren’t drug smugglers. They looked too poor and were unarmed. They made for a rather moving and pathetic sight, and looked disheveled and dejected. I had never seen an operation like this up close and it was rather upsetting, and got me thinking about the life these folks were trying to make for themselves and the efforts that we in the United States make to prevent them from coming here. Sanctus Sonorensis was a work that eventually came out of this experience. The edge gilding mimics breviaries. The book attempts to show the dawn to dusk progression of big skies below which immigrants trudge, driven by economic desperation.

Artist Bio

I am currently a professor in the School of Art, University of Arizona in Tucson. Previously I taught for 24 years at Purchase College, State University of New York. I have been making artists’ books for over 35 years, and got my BFA from Cornell University and my MFA in Photographic Studies from Visual Studies Workshop program at SUNY Buffalo. I have received a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Fellowship as well as two NYFA Fellowships and many other awards. I am in most artists book collections around the world.