LUKE SWENSON & JACK DASH – Portland, Oregon
In 2017, documentary photographer Luke Swenson and ecologist Jack Dash, began studying a remote section of the Coronado National Forest in southern Arizona known as the Atascosa Highlands. Located in Pima and Santa Cruz Counties, the Atascosa Highlands are one of the most important biological and cultural corridors between Mexico and the United States. They take up less than 1% of Arizona’s overall landmass, but host around one-quarter of the state’s flora, including species which are found nowhere else in the United States. Atascosa Borderlands is a visual storytelling project combining botanical survey, oral history, and documentary photography to explore the history and ecology of this notoriously rugged stretch of the US-Mexico border in southern Arizona. National conversations about the Borderlands tend to paint it as a barren and lifeless landscape to be controlled and divided. Atascosa Borderlands is focused on countering this perception by recording, documenting, and sharing the lived experiences of local residents, so that people from across the US and Mexico and around the Globe can learn about the nuanced realities of the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands from the people who know them most intimately.