Award: Artist Research & Development Grant
Discipline: Digital Media Arts
Project Collaborator(s):

City/Town: Douglas
Year: 2016
Artist Website:

My work has an inherent attribute of perceiving the world from a threshold, a physiological and psychological response to the mutation of cultural ideologies, engendered by my lifetime’s interaction with the US Mexico border.

The Mexican Woman’s Post-Apocalyptic Survival Guide to the Southwest: Food, Clothing, Shelter, y la Migra examines and celebrates the survival skills of a group of contemporary Mexican women living on the US-Mexico border. After spending the day tending their gardens, feeding livestock, completing knitting projects and firing handmade bricks, many of the women are active on their social media accounts, posting the fruits of their labor and/or selfies beside family members.

M. Jenea Sanchez met the women of DouglaPrieta Works, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering woman and children in Colonia Ladrillera, a rural neighborhood in Agua Prieta, Sonora, when she was asked to paint a mural on their community space. Since then she has spent many mornings and afternoons with them as they engage in water and energy conservation techniques, brick making, and community learning. For her new body of work Sanchez will photograph each woman in ‘heroic’ stances atop the land they preserve and utilize for survival.

“They have become role models to me, not only as stewards of the land but as mothers, artists and community advocates,” Sanchez wrote in her application. “This photographic series is meant to place the women in a landscape of power, demanding dignity and respect. The prints will be large scale (40×60 inches) for the aggrandizement and power the women possess, as a mechanism to counteract biases based on race and economic status.”

Phase 2 of the project will consist of a “how to” survival guide that will exist as a printed art book and an interactive e-book including live links, and video. Sanchez will learn and document the many aspects involved with surviving solely on the resources of the desert land based on the following topics:

  • Food: Growing crops, herbs, and raising chickens, roosters, and rabbits.
  • Shelter: Making and firing bricks. (Members made and fired the bricks that now make up the DouglaPrieta Works building).
  • Clothing: Knitting, crocheting sewing, and quilting.
  • La Migra: Descriptions of what one could face when traveling on foot across the desert and how to deal with La Migra (border agents).
  • The book will also touch on additional details of DouglaPrieta Works’ practices including water preservation, energy preservation, and ethics. This detailed guide will consist of photographs and drawings illustrating the life and land the 12 women hold in high regard. The e-book will contain short video tutorials showing the women at work in their organization, along with live links to resources and articles.

M. Jenea Sanchez was born in Douglas, AZ in 1985. After receiving her MFA from Arizona State University in 2011, she returned to Douglas to teach high school Graphic Design and photography at Cochise College. She and her husband opened a coffee shop, Galiano’s cafe that is dedicated to a healthy lifestyle and the promoting the arts. The couple also runs organization, “Artwalk on G” which is platform for creative expression and provides the borderlands community an immersive, bi-national arts district through artwalks and street events, and workshops.

Her work has been presented at Spirit Abuse First Friday, 25CPW New York, The Latino Museum of Art and History, Modified Arts, Artlink A.E. England Gallery, Monorchid Gallery, 515 Gallery, PHX Fringe Festival, and ASU Museum of Anthropology.

Banner Image: Images from “Skinning to Whiten: Survival Mechanism,” December 2011, Harry Wood Gallery, ASU Tempe Campus.