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Ask Collette Marie

What inspired your approach to the Interstate 25/University Avenue public art project? 

"My intention is to share stories of our community and culture. The design is a composition of oversized agricultural crops and desert plants in order to bring rural elements to an urban landscape. Part of the infrastructure is a new entry to the NMSU campus. Since NMSU is an agricultural university, I've used four of the New Mexico specialty crops, which include chile, cotton, pecans and onions. The design as a whole is anchored by a repeating earth and seed pattern symbolic of our agricultural roots and academic growth. Other design elements include the ocotillo, which is an underappreciated Southwest plant and a personal favorite of mine; the whiptail lizard, which is New Mexico’s state reptile; sun disks and sunbursts representing the sunny weather in Las Cruces; and a song sparrow, which is a dedication to my grandmother, Alvita Trujillo Flores. 

“The design implements larger-than-life imagery to create an immersive art experience for the viewer. Commuters can get a feel for the culture and rural life in the Mesilla Valley. It’s an honor to have my work showcased at this scale in my hometown.” 

Marie '01 is a Latina artist and designer who grew up in Las Cruces and earned her bachelor of fine arts degree. In 2018, the New Mexico Department of Transportation selected Marie’s concept for a $3.3 million public art commission along the new interchange at I-25 and University Avenue. She titled the project “Cultivo y Cultura.” Marie’s work has been featured in a solo exhibit at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, published in New Mexico Magazine and in “Celebration Graphics Sourcebook: Festive Designs from All Cultures.”