Award: Research & Development Grant

Discipline: Visual Arts

Project Collaborator(s): Vanessa Savel,  transcriptions, translations, and community connections 

City/Town: Flagstaff

Year: 2019

Artist Website:

This community, which has created who I am as a person and welcomed me back with open arms, is deeply part of who I am. My desire is to dedicate my time, energy and experience to telling the stories that are in the shadows in my own communities of birth, childhood and currently adulthood. I want to give back to the people and places that have defined me.

Excerpt from Amy Martin’s R&D Grant application

Documentary photographer Amy Martin’s award will enable her to complete a documentary/portrait photography project called Todos Dignos: Undocumented. Through interviews and thoughtful portraits, Martin celebrates the positive contributions of undocumented immigrants by highlighting objects her subjects have chosen to represent their work lives and personal lives. The artist aims to break down the ‘otherness’ rhetoric and dispel false narratives by highlighting the human side of immigration.

With the grant funds, Martin will acquire equipment she has previously had to rent as well as the learning necessary to master studio lighting. In addition to providing her with a strong foundation to advance her creative practice to the next level, Martin sees this grant and the work it supports as an opportunity to more fully invest her passion and talents in service to her community.

“Much of my work over the past decade has concentrated on other parts of the world,” Martin reflected in her application. “Funding this project will bring everything that I have learned full circle back to my community, deepening my love and understanding of place and connecting back to those around me.”

Todos Dignos: Obrero

This image is the first image from the series Undocumented: Desde La
Oscuridad. The project shares creative portraits of undocumented individuals from the immigrant community here in Arizona represented by objects that highlight their contributions to our community. ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦* represents his contributions with a cross and a hammer, symbolic of his work and social life. ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ was brought over by his single mother within he was 10 years old, and has worked construction since he was 13. He also is an active speaker and actor in the community church.

“We as immigrants are people that are thankful for this country. It is an opportunity to have a better future. We came for nothing more but to work. Not to take, only to work. We want to respect this country. We are not perfect, but we want to be members of the community and help this country.” – ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Todos Dignos: Limpiadora

This image is the second image from the series Undocumented: Desde La Oscuridad. ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦* represents her contributions with the rubber gloves she has used over years of cleaning houses. A ceramic heart, a gift from Guadalajara, represents the love and care she gives the community and her family through motherhood, involvement in the church and tireless work advocating for the understanding of the immigrant experience and fighting for just legislation.

“I think that more than anything, the public in general should see people in the (immigrant) community as they are. Not disregard them because ‘They are an immigrant, they are going to use the system, they are going to be a criminal, or they will take advantage of everything’, but that they know us as who we really are.”– ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

∗ The names of the subjects were redacted by the artist. 

Amy Martin, born and raised in Arizona, is a documentary photographer focusing on conservation and social issues in her home region and abroad. Though her images, she hopes to increase awareness, understanding and compassion across geographic and social barriers. Growing up in Tucson, border issues have been a primary focus and she hopes to spark change in perception by creating pathways of connection to those denied a platform.  Amy has recently completed projects documenting the issue of statelessness on the Dominican/Haitian border and the experience of latino/a farm workers on the Arizona/Mexico border. Amy brings depth to her work from her diverse background as a former Peace Corps volunteer in Dominican Republic, a Park Ranger at Grand Canyon, and a conservation biologist in the American Southwest. She also recognizes the importance of visual creation and sharing of images during this time in global connectivity, and has begun creating and teaching Identity Through Photography workshops to children in diverse communities. Her work has been shared throughout the world including exhibitions in New York, DC, Vienna, Bordeaux, Dominican Republic, Nogales, Tucson and Flagstaff.

Artist photo by Susan Martin