Public art in 20 Rapid Transit Bus shelters as part of METRO System in El Paso, TX. Inaugurated October 2014, Leaves of Wind is a series of public art installations incorporated into the twenty transit shelters on the first line of El Paso’s new Brio Rapid Transit System: the Mesa corridor. This route serves an area that has been paved over and built up, rendering nature invisible amidst signs for fast food restaurants, gas stations and businesses. When artist Catherine Widgery was approached by El Paso’s Museums and Cultural Affairs Department to create a series of artworks for the Mesa corridor, her first thought was, “how can art even be seen in this environment?” Her solution was to create Leaves of Wind, a series of custom-fabricated metal screens, integrated into the station architecture and featuring different dramatic images of local flora. By vastly enlarging images of local plants and flowers, Widgery created fresh and distinct stations. These shelters provide riders with respite from the blazing Texas sun and inspire people to reconnect with nature and examine the commonplace more closely.
At the heart of the concept for Leaves of Wind are the ideas of time, motion and our perceptions of the physical world around us. We often overlook what is immediately before us because the human mind manages visual overload by editing out the familiar. To overcome this phenomenon, Widgery had the photographs printed on the inside faces of the aluminum screens that run horizontally through the shelters. The images appear and disappear as riders approach and depart from the stations. By designing the images to wink in and out of view, she used motion and surprise to encourage riders’ awareness of the beautiful, local flowers and plants. Each station creates a lively, colorful and cooling visual environment, a virtual ’garden’ for those waiting in the shelters. Widgery selected plants from each season and arranged them so that riders traveling the entire length of the corridor will experience the full seasonal cycle along their trip.