Yuma is one or nine communities represented in the inaugural cohort of the AZ Creative Communities Institute (AZCCI). A program of Arizona Commission on the Arts and ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, with guidance from Southwest Folklife Alliance, AZCCI offers small teams, made up of diverse members of Arizona communities, a unique opportunity to explore the many ways creativity can be put to work for positive community impact.

About Yuma

“Visiting Yuma and living in Yuma are two completely different things. When I think of people visiting Yuma, I see them strolling downtown. You should think of Snowbirds aka Winter Visitors as people who sit on the living/visiting line for 4-6 months a year. There’s a certain facade that is in play when we talk about visiting. Yuma gives some stereotypical border town vibes to an outsider. Some people are truly Yumans and that deserves respect, for many of these are who have a vision for the future of our city. Being a transplant teacher in Yuma provides a good perspective. I interact with nearly 200 young Yumans a day at work. These creative little humans have captured my heart by giving me the satisfaction of seeing them love making art. Living in Yuma for any period of time is sure to change your mind. There are a lot of great things about this growing border town and you may find that you can experience a new side of what America has to offer.”

Cari Jean Nelson, Yuma Resident

Team Members

Lindsay Benacka, Arts and Culture Program Manager, City of Yuma
Maria McKivergan, Licensed Professional Counselor, Desert Counseling and Recovery Services
Cari Jean Nelson, Ceramics Instructor, Yuma High School District
Isaac Russel, Research Analyst, US Department of Defense; Co-Director, Littlewood Fine Art Co-op

Artist Collaborator(s)

Brad Downey
Lucinda Yrene


Team Yuma’s project will culminate with 3 “paint by number” murals placed in strategic areas of Yuma County including south county, the foothills, and Yuma central. The murals will be created at unique events set up at each site and members of the greater Yuma community will receive “golden ticket” invitations (art summons) to attend the event an paint a portion of the mural. We anticipated sending thousands of invitations via mail to both random and targeted addresses with the goal of cross pollination throughout the community. Thus murals will not necessarily be created just by the residents of the mural location, rather we are hoping to get community members outside their comfort zones and into other areas of the community.

Additional Information and Project Updates