BKL Stories: A Mural in the Making!


In summer 2023, Saraiya Kanning led an intergenerational Writing the Community residency in Tucson's Barrio Kroeger Lane neighborhood in partnership with Shirley Roman and Josefina Cardenas of Favor Celestial. The group produced a range of poems focused on the neighborhood, the Sonoran Desert, and place-making, including the collaborative one below:

All the Beautiful Things of the Sonoran Desert

The desert smells like su:gi (creosote)
                              like herbs and juniper and sage
                              like coffee
                              like tortillas and frybread
                              like dusty air

The desert tastes like fuzzy and bitter creosote seeds
It’s medicine and makes your body healthy
The desert tastes like crunchy frybread
                             like chili and bean frybread
                             like fluffy and sugar frybread

The desert sounds like birds chirping
                                like seeds rattling in the quiet
                                like swooshing rain
                                like airplanes
                                like drumming
                                like neighing horses
                                like cars doing burnouts
                                like tiny steps walking
                                like trains

The desert feels like prickly cactus
                           like rocks
                           like a hot wind
                           like little fuzzy creosote berries
                           like spiderwebs on your arms when you walk

The desert looks beautiful and clean
The desert looks like saguaros
                            like rabbits
                            like flowers
                            like tumbleweeds
                            like sunsets

In addition to poetry, the group also produced artwork for a neighborhood tile mural. While participants painted a range of themes, many pieces focused on A Mountain, which rises over the neighborhood. The mountain's moniker comes from a hillside letter (A, for the University of Arizona) that has festooned it since 1914, but it also lends our city its name: "Tucson" comes from "Chuk-Son,"  which means "at the base of the black hill" in Tohono O'odham. These three paintings offer three different perspectives on A Mountain and the historic neighborhood that sits beneath it:

Sofya Landeros

Cecilia Trujillo

Tlacanahuac and Armondo Antonio

The tile mural, which will also include other artwork, photographs, and explanatory text, will be installed at the historic Ochoa House in Barrio Kroeger Lane with assistance from artist Lindee Zimmer. Stayed tuned for updates!