Mosaic Artworks at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge is located on the east side of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque’s South Valley. It was created in 2012 when Price’s Dairy farm was bought by the federal government and Bernalillo County. Valle de Oro is the first urban wildlife refuge in the Southwest, and the neighborhoods surrounding it were instrumental in building the Refuge and shaping its vision. VDO has used a uniquely community-based model in planning its growth and development. Community members from Mountain View Neighborhood, the South Valley, the Pueblo of Isleta, and the larger Albuquerque metropolitan area have been instrumental in making the Refuge a place that welcomes all of us and reflects our values, histories, and traditions.
Valle do oro mosaic project map
The Refuge’s openness to the community is symbolized by many ways visitors can access the property: through the main entrance on Second Street; from the acequias that border and cross the Refuge; and from the paths in the bosque along the Rio Grande. Visitors may arrive in cars, on foot, by bicycle, or on horseback. The idea for the mosaic project is to create several sculptures covered in handmade tile that will stand at the different entrances to welcome visitors. They will tell stories about the many peoples, traditions, histories, plants, and animals of this area.

ALMA and Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge share the goal of strengthening communities in the South Valley, the Pueblo of Isleta, and the Albuquerque metropolitan area by providing citizens opportunities to work together, share their histories and values, connect with the outdoors, and protect their neighborhoods and the natural world for future generations. Creating these mosaic sculptures is providing community members and organizations a concrete way to tell stories about their cultures, histories, and traditions, to talk about the interplay between urban and rural life, to shape educational narratives at the Refuge, and to embed the Refuge more deeply in our communities.

ALMA has started to gather input from the community regarding themes and designs for the sculptures. In the second half of 2020 we will be working more closely with Mountain View residents, South Valley residents and the Pueblo of Isleta to develop specific designs for each sculpture. We are planning to build a total of 4 sculptures, each approximately 7’ tall x 3’ wide x 1’ thick. Covered in colorful handmade tiles, every sculpture will have a different shape; they will blend natural imagery, history, and cultural traditions to create complex, multi-layered artworks.

We plan to finish the design phase of the project in early 2021, and to fabricate and install the sculptures in 2021-2022. We’re excited about providing paid opportunities for Mountain View, South Valley, Bernalillo County, and Pueblo of Isleta youth to help create these artworks. Some of our apprentices have already been working on this project, and we plan to hire 4 more young artists from local high schools and colleges to help fabricate and install the sculptures. Community members of all ages will also have the opportunity to help create tiles for the sculptures through public workshops.

This is an example of what a gateway sculpture could look like.
The sculptures at Valle de Oro will be about seven feet tall.

Interested in Helping Provide Input?
Here is a link to our google form questionnaire that we will compile when ready to start design. Thank you for your time and participation!
example monument for VDO