People’s Bridge of the Sun and Bridge of the Moon

Engage: El Laboratorio collaborated with David Ocelotl Garcia, Alfonso “Piloto” Nieves Ruiz, Americas for Conservation and the Arts, Birdseed Collective, Denver Arts and Venues, National Western Center, Latino Cultural Arts Center, Nancy Araceli Saldaña Navarro, and youth, families, and schools in the Denver area.

Innovate: We facilitated the hands-on involvement of hundreds of community members who would otherwise have had little opportunity to participate in public art making.

Co-create. By incorporating public-made art into the installations, there will be permanent displays linking the community to these bridges.

In 2019 El Laboratorio brought together a team—under the artistic direction of public artist David Ocelotl Garcia—to envision how two bridges to be constructed in the heart of one of Denver’s poorest neighborhoods could represent the aspirations of residents and reflect their cultures and histories. Team Ocelotl’s proposal for the art installations was selected following an international competition.

Community wants meaningful involvement

In early discussions, community members made clear that they and their children wanted to participate directly in the creation of the art project and they wanted their children to learn about the process of art-making. In response, El Laboratorio, with team partners Alfonso “Piloto” Nieves Ruiz and Americas for Conservation and the Arts, planned and coordinated Team Ocelotl’s project outreach, which engaged hundreds of community members–mostly youth–in creating more than a thousand artifacts.

Over a thousand faces were created by community members to contribute to the art installation. El Laboratorio coordinated the involvement of hundreds of participants.

In addition, community members traced their hands and these tracings were used by David Ocelotl Garcia as inspiration for the “leaves” of his stainless steel tree sculptures on the bridges.

David Ocelotl Garcia used tracings of community members’ hands as inspiration for the “leaves” of the bridges’ tree-like sculptures.

El Laboratorio also documented the art fabrication process and created this bilingual website.

El Laboratorio carefully documented the entire process of art fabrication for the project, with a goal of presenting–especially for young people–the many steps and collaborators needed for public art of this scale.