Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

If the Las Cruces dam is reconstructed, the artist fears that her art could be destroyed

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico – Kathy Morrow has spent thousands of hours planning, assembling and maintaining a stunning public art project in southeast Las Cruces.

“I would call it spontaneous art, but it’s also called guerrilla art because it’s not sanctioned,” she laughed.

She estimates that over the course of five years she has literally moved tons of glass, stone and roof tiles to create beautiful images on the Tortugas Dam. Her artworks include her depictions of a quail, a street runner, a hummingbird, a cougar, and a skunk.

“Nobody told me not to do it and there were people in authority here who seemed to enjoy it,” she explained.

However, she explained that the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency of the US Department of Agriculture, is investigating the possibility of reconstructing the 60-year-old dam. She worries about the future of her masterpiece.

“I was hoping that if it were possible to save the artwork, it would be wonderful,” she said. “But if the artwork gets in the way of this structure, it would have to go.”

A spokeswoman for New Mexico’s National Resources Conservation Service did not respond to a request for comment as of the deadline, but a spokesman for the company overseeing the project, Genterra Consultants, said its office has received a tremendous amount of email from the public .

While no work of art lasts forever, Morrow hopes hers will last at least a few more years.

“Eternity is way beyond anything I could have as a concept, but for now we’re just going to enjoy what we can,” Morrow said.

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