El Camino Real International Cultural Center, New Mexico
Text through threshold reads: "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." Ralph Waldo Emerson (The text above is incorporated within this monumental work and is only visible if one exits their car and walks through the piece itself.)
Sited in the southern desert of central New Mexico, this sculpture marks the entrance to the Camino Real International Cultural Center. Originally planned as a joint effort between Mexico and the United States, the center contains award winning exhibits, interpretive learning center, and artifacts presenting the history and heritage of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro - the Royal Road to the Interior (www.caminorealheritage.org). The center itself sits along the original Camino Real and is a stunning work of architecture.
This was a 1% for public art project and my first monumental public commission. I created the design after months of research in the historical archives at the University of New Mexico, numerous site visits including several overnight camp outs, on site meditations and conversations with a diverse group of stakeholders in the project including a descendant of one of the original Spanish land grant families still living in the area. Having read numerous historical accounts of travelers along the road from Onate in the 16th century to the present, I settled on a design that focused on the concept of both physical and metaphorical passage (through both time and space) and infinite space.
I felt it was important to entice viewers into the physical environment so that they might get a sense of the sights, smells, beauty and challenges of the native desert environment. Removed from the air conditioned comfort of ones vehicle, and walking through the artwork you can get a sense of the challenges faced by earlier travelers along the road. Standing within the piece itself, and looking up you are engulfed in the column of blue light expanding upward into the infinite space of the azure blue desert sky. This 18 foot tall column of laminated glass symbolizes the travelers quest for adventure and the unknown as it expands infinitely into the infinity of the sky. Viewed form a distance it is a strong visual marker, a "point of focused light" marking the path through the imposing steel body of the sculpture.