Editor’s note: A new mural greets visitors as they enter the north door of the Las Cruces Museum of Art, 491 N. Main St. Downtown. The mural was created by Las Cruces artist Coy Lowther, who made small discs so students and community members could add their own original art pieces to the project.
I cut out more than 200 round discs for community members to decorate to include with the mural. The backboard I used to cut the discs from ended up being the eye of the Gila monster, which was my husband’s idea and one of my favorite details.
As a new parent and traversing through the rocky world we’ve all been dealing with the past few years, I felt the need to reconnect with our community. Although my original idea was to have Las Cruces Public Schools students decorate the individual discs in hope that they would form a special connection with the museum and art, I’d estimate 40 to 50 K-12 school students still participated.
But seeing the teachers’ devotion to their students through an extra-trying semester triggered my idea to evolve into incorporating a larger portion of our community; the idea that the inspired can’t exist without the inspiring. So, I personally reached out to people who inspire me (teachers, social workers, firefighters, farmers, nurses, artists, etc.) and let them know how they have affected the world in a wonderful way.
I then asked them to decorate a disc depicting what inspires them or what they love about Las Cruces and also asked some people to share discs to be decorated by people they found inspiring, sort of as an icebreaker to start a chain reaction of connecting through kind and positive gestures and ultimately end in an inspiring community collaboration. So, I think the title of community mural or community art piece is appropriate.
I don't know how successful I was in the positive chain reaction, because it was out of my hands at that point. People picked up and dropped off their finished pieces at The Frame and Art Center and I later assembled them. In hindsight, I wish each person would have signed the front of their artwork and I could have individually talked to everyone, but with Covid and a deadline, it was impossible.
What I do know is, I was overjoyed with the community output. There are so many beautiful and interesting discs that tell different stories, and all together it gave me an even greater appreciation for our community. I am so very grateful for the opportunity.
One area of the mural encircles the discs people used as memorial pieces with flowers and butterflies, with the three crosses in the background which pays homage to those who paved the way before us.
Another area of interest in the mural is the placement of a fourth-grader who drew a hero disc next to the Doña Ana firefighters and also state Sen. Carrie Hamblen’s disc next to a high schooler and elementary schoolers’ pride discs. I hoped the kids would make the connection with people in inspiring positions in their own community.
Coy Lowther was born and raised here in Las Cruces. Contact Lowther at firstname.lastname@example.org and find her on Instagram at @coylynnlowther.