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New Public Art Sculpture Emphasizes Responsible Water Use

City dedicates Sawmill Public Art project installation by artist Thomas Sayre at Mill Pond Refuge.

March 30, 2023 - Today, Mayor Tim Keller along with leaders from the City’s Department of Arts & Culture and Arts Board, dedicated the newest sculpture in the Public Art Program’s collection. The sculpture by artist Thomas Sayre, located at Bellamah Ave. NW and 18th St. NW near the Mill Pond Refuge in Albuquerque, connects terrain and climate with cultures and lifestyle through the lens of water use.

The installation, commissioned by the Albuquerque Arts Board and Sawmill Community Land Trust, consists of four large-scale, earth cast sculptures in the shape of water containers from different cultures. Earth casting is a process where large shapes are dug from the earth and filled with concrete mixed with iron oxide, along with structural supports. The sculptures were designed specifically for a detention pond on the site (referred to as the Mill Pond Refuge) which will serve as a water catchment for recharging an aquifer in the neighborhood and providing a mini-sanctuary for birds and small animals indigenous to the area.

The earth cast sculptures visually connects the Mill Pond Refuge with the surrounding residents, hikers, bikers, and visitors who have traveled to the area. The project demonstrates responsible water management, especially in new developments, and how people’s actions impact the climate and environment we live in.

“From this ancient tradition of water conveyance, community now includes all humans, from all walks of life in the area, all of whom need water,” explains Thomas Sayre. “Whether we know it or not all communities have or will face these same ecological challenges.”

Sayre sculpts, paints, and produces commissioned work. His art is housed in collections across the globe from Thailand to Tennessee. He has exhibited his work in a number of private galleries and public museums, including Cheryl Hazan Gallery in Manhattan and the Contemporary Art Museum and the North Carolina Museum of Art, both in Raleigh, N.C.