River Spirit

Submitted by City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs

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Client: MCAD, City of El Paso

Location: El Paso, TX, United States

Completion date: 2013

Artwork budget: $45,000

Project Team

Client

MCAD, City of El Paso

City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs

Artist

Mitsu Overstreet

Overview

The City of El Paso’s Public Art Program commissioned local artist Mitsu Overstreet to create an original integrated terrazzo floor as artwork for the El Paso International Airport baggage claim area. River Spirit floor was installed as part of renovation project in the airport’s baggage claim’s 10,320 square foot area.

Goals

River Spirit is an original terrazzo floor design that visually aids with the organization of traffic circulation and wayfinding, and that provided a focal point for the area. The floor design was also required to be reflective of the region, visually pleasing, and create a sense of place.
Inspired by the Rio Grande River, the piece spans through the entire space cohesively using imagery that is iconic to the border region. The design also incorporates messages on metal washers embedded into the terrazzo floor. Brass and zinc disks engraved with fond memories of El Paso provided by the community entice viewers to walk around the installation.
As the airport completed new construction projects, the imagery in River Spirit was continued from the baggage claim area onto a breezeway leading to the rental car facility.

Process

In addition to collaboration between MCAD, the airport and the artist, the community was invited to participate in this project by submitting messages and memories about El Paso. These messages and memories were engraved on metal washers that were then embedded into the floor. These messages were provided by members of the community as a way for local residents to share what makes El Paso special with visitors walking through the baggage claim.

Additional Information

Overstreet is a contemporary graphic artist who has worked with murals for more than 20 years. He draws inspiration from community and culture, natural environment and landscapes, and architecture. During construction of the airport’s rental car center, Overstreet was commissioned to create a companion piece, The River/El Rio:Both Sides, No Sides, that was installed in the floor of this building.