Tucson’s All Souls Procession

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Photos and text by Jerry Jackson

In 1990, Tucson artist Susan Johnson was looking for a way to honor her late father and process her own grief. She created a performance piece and was joined by several other artists in what is now the All Souls Procession. Twenty-eight years later, the small ritual ceremony has grown into an annual event in Tucson, now organized by the arts collective Many Mouths One Stomach. Last year more than 150,000 people gathered to remember loved ones and reflect on the universal experience of death.

The Procession draws from a myriad of cultures but can’t avoid comparisons to Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead given Tucson’s proximity to the border and that it is held the same week as the Mexican holiday. Organizers, however, emphasize that grief is a common experience and strive to keep the event all inclusive.