Photography Club captures the All Souls Procession

Vicki Cunningham

The SaddleBrooke Photography Club’s November trek was to the All Souls Procession in downtown Tucson Sunday, November 5. This is perhaps one of the most important, inclusive and authentic public ceremonies in North America today. The procession had its beginnings in Tucson, Arizona in 1990 with a ceremonial performance piece created by local artist Susan Johnson. Susan was grieving the death of her father. She, as an artist, found solace in a creative, celebratory approach to memorializing him. Says Johnson, “From the beginning, it was different people’s ethnic groups, different cultures, but also it was all these different art forms put together.”

After the first year, many artists were inspired to continue, growing the Procession into its modern incarnation. Today we find ourselves organizing well over 150,000 people for this procession.

Photography Club members Bernie and Linda Nagy took an easy way down to the beginning of the site. Catching the bus at the Hotel Congress, they arrived in plenty of time to capture those putting greasepaint on and preparing for the procession. They said, they thought without a doubt there were thousands in the procession. Sure enough, 150,000 rang that bell!

Barbara Wilder commented, “We had an enthusiastic group from the SaddleBrooke Photography Club go to downtown Tucson to photograph this unique event. There were people of all ages coming to honor their deceased family members, but it wasn’t sad, it was more of a joyous tribute to their life and good memories of them. We came early to see people getting ready before the procession, getting faces painted and organizing their group. I was mostly afraid of not finding a place to park nearby, but managed to park about a block away from the gathering spot.”

It felt safe being there, and we were glad we could witness the love from everyone participating. The creativity was special because people invented their own costumes to honor their loved ones. If Mom loved flowers, butterflies or nature, it was reflected in the design.

Frank Earnest, a new member, Dee English and Bob Gardner all had a wonderful time. Mark Guinn said, “It was a very interesting event to see. Many people were serious about how they honored their loved ones who had passed away. It was a great cultural experience.” Dee felt that “the chaotic and wild beauty of the All Souls Procession brings people together who create a spiritual bond with their loved ones who have passed away.”

New York City News wrote an article about this event. Now Tucson is making the U.S. papers!

If you are interested in joining us for the love of beauty and learning how to capture it, please attend one or both of our Open Studio meetings on Wednesday and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to noon in the Agate Room, Arts and Crafts, HOA Two.