Guadalupe prayer card found in the Desert
Large Guadalupe Prayer Card found on the Sonoran Desert, 2007
The People,the Culture,the Land

This blog celebrates the beauty and grace of our southern border, the culturally rich, big sky country we call home.  Blog posts illuminate the intersection of arts, culture, and faith with the biological connectivity of the borderlands.  Like casting wildflower seeds, the art of the border shown here, is on the wind.

Art & Letters

Essays: Migrant Woman Fleeing Violence Find Beauty and Healing in Embroidery,   From The Eyes of Babes: The Art of Asylum ,   The Migrant Quilt: restitching the fabric of community ,   Calling All Souls: Spiritual Activism on the Border.   Published in America Magazine, Open Democracy licensed under Creative Commons, and The Global Sisters Report, the Society of Southwestern Authors Storyteller Magazine, She Magazine, and The Hummingbird ReviewPre-millennium Arts Editor & Features, The Mendocino Outlook & The Bay Area Reporter.

After a decade and a half of creating collaborative Fiber Arts Memorial sculptures, installations, & altars in the community, more personal Devotional arts reflect the tenor of the times.


2021 Artisans Beyond Borders

Continuing Textile Tradition, Mexico Zoom,  WeaveARealPeace.org

Edinburgh, Scotland Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers, Zoom

Rio Grande Borderlands Ministries Canvas of Hope Zoom

Simmons College Graduate Program in Public Health, Zoom

2020 Art of Asylum / Artisans Beyond Borders 

Artisans Beyond Borders Zoom, The National Cathedral Sanctuary Committee, Washington D.C.

Common Ground on the Border, United Church of Christ, Sahuarita, AZ

AZPersonal, Political, Spiritual: Arts on the Border, Shalom-Mennonite Church, Tucson

Tucson Friends of Artisans Beyond Borders, United Nations Association Center, Tucson

Art of Asylum, Leaving Home: Migration through the Eyes of Children: Patagonia, AZ

Artisans Beyond Borders, Kino Border Initiative, Nogales, Sonora, Mexico


 Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Tucson, AZ

The Unitarian Universalist Church, Tucson, AZ

Episcopal Border Summit, St. Philips in the Hills Episcopal, Tucson, AZ

Church of the Apostles Episcopal Church, Oro Valley, AZ

Theology Uncorked, St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, Tucson, AZ

Images from the Border,” Coalition for Immigrant Neighbors (COIN), Indianapolis, Indiana.

Embroidering the Border,” University Religious Center, USC, Los Angeles.

Art of Asylum, USC Border Immersion at Casa Alitas Monastery shelter, Tucson, AZ.

Sisters of the Holy Cross Bordando por la Paz y Memoria Project, Fuentas Rojas, Mexico City, Mexico


Art of Bordado on the Border Pop-up, 2018 Border Ministries Summit, Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, El Paso, TX.

Un Bordado Destacado en “Voces Fronterizas; Border Voices,” NAU, Flagstaff, AZ.

Skype / Eye Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands in conjunction with Alejandro C. Iñárritu’s Carne y Arena Exhibit.

USC student Border Immersion, UCC Good Shepherd, Sahuarita, AZ

Sisters of the Holy Cross, “Devotional Arts & Immigration Experiential & Presentation, International Conference/Assembly, Notre Dame, Indiana

Back Matter

In the U.S., collaborative Las Madres Sculptural Migrant memorials can be found at Tucson’s Pima Community College & Southside Presbyterian Church.

The Border Art Installation: Hardship and Hope: Crossing the U.S./MX Border (2010 – ) is housed in permanent collections at The Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg, Sweden.  In 2016, long-time collaborator sculptor Antonia Gallegos and I donated all art & artifacts to the Office of Religious Life at the University of Southern California. Part of the collection is currently on loan to Filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s worldwide immersive VR Installation 

Media: The Wall Street Journal, Utne Magazine, Univision, Tucson.com, Italy’s Corriere della Sera, Tucson Weekly, NPR’s Latino USA,  Sculptural Pursuit, Fiber Arts Magazine, and Patheos. Com.


Benedictine Oblate since 2010 of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration recently returned to the Motherhouse in Clyde, Missouri after 80+ years at their Monastery in Tucson, Arizona.

*I began this blog a decade ago as www.AZartsandletters.blogspot.com, stopped to make lots of Art but never stopped documenting my days in the Arizona borderlands. As a former art therapist, I want to dedicate this blog to Freddy, a wayfarer from Oaxaca to Arizona who discovered along the way that he was an artist.

© 2017 Valarie Lee James

11 thoughts on “About”

  1. Hi Valarie…I am a member of Voices From The Border and helped organize the Mothers Across Borders event. I just recently saw your blog (and post from the MAB event), wonderful, poignant writing. May I get your mailing address so I can send you something? You can reply to my email at indiann1111@hotmail.com. Thank you! India Aubry


  2. I recently read your American Magazine piece, and I am wondering if you are doing any work to organize the donation of crochet and embroidery materials, as well as other art supplies to the migrants in detention. I am moved to contribute in this way.
    Thank you so much for your work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Aviva! We are working on that as we speak. If you are interested in donating materials or earmarking a check for supplies to Tucson’s Casa Alitas shelter for migrant women and children please see http://www.ccs-soaz.org to donate online. If you wish to provide supplies for women and children waiting in refugee centers on the other side of the border you could also donate to the KinoBorder Initiative.org in Nogales, AZ. They’ve been feeding and sheltering peiple for many years and would welcome any and all support. For either shelter, be sure and attach a note that your donation be directed to supporting women’s handmade enterprises. Thank you so much for your interest!


  3. Hi Valerie. I am the mother of a adopted daughter from Guatemala. Not a day goes by that I do not consider what her life might have been like if she were in Guate. I would like to come and work with you at the shelter. I can stay for as long as you might need me. I am certainly able to pay for lodgings etc. Thank you Marguerite Mains Connecticut

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Marguerite,

      Thank you so much for your loving response. Your daughter is fortunate to have you. At this time, due to forces beyond out control, the Casa Alitas Shelter is relocating to another facility. We won’t know what our needs actually look like until We are moved in. With your permission, I’d like to revisit your offer in September. Please feel free to email me anytime between then and now. Bless you!


  4. Hi Valarie, I want to thank you for your article in the Spring WARP magazine. I was moved by your story and impressed by the way you express yourself in arcs that are both lyrical and concise. I was hoping to share it digitally on a Facebook page I manage, but found your article “Migrant women fleeing violence find beauty and healing in embroidery” and shared that instead. Warmest good wishes for the valuable work you are involved in, Wendy


    1. Thank you, Wendy! Your feedback is so welcome. It’s not often that any of us seize the time to comment so cogently on each other’s writing. It means the world to me especially on days when it’s all so impossible to put into words, you know? Bless you. P.S. I will look for you on FB 🙂


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