By Kimberly Rene’ Vanecek
A graphic designer by trade, Mitsu Overstreet feels his truest calling is public art. His ability to integrate technology into art can be seen with his latest in installation at the El Paso International Airport labeled “Limitless”.
Your installation at the El Paso International Airport is a work in progress…tell me about it?
It’s a terrazzo floor design and installation for the remodeling update of the baggage claim area for the El Paso International Airport and the Museum and Cultural Affairs Department. This is the first time I’ve ever designed for terrazzo and so grateful for this opportunity that this project has provided to help me to grow and work on this level.
The inspiration for the main image finally came down to the Rio Grande River because of its importance to the region not only for social, political and economic reasons but for the life giving sustenance that its water brings to this area.
The next was to have a work that invited people to experience it in whole, and to somehow get the community that used the airport to get involved. I started to interview people in the baggage area, and they began telling me stories about their experiences here, their family’s stories and what they loved about the area. I figured if we could embed quotes from people all over the region talking about what they loved and their favorite memory I could create a space that told these stories to the visitors that they could experience while walking throughout the work.
Well the one creative habit I can truly attribute to any success I’ve had is my work with other artists. Most of my best work has been collaborative and it’s become almost a necessary part of it. It actually kinda feels weird when I’m working with projects that are only me creating the art. I’ve recently started experimenting with personal work and it’s different thinking that way versus bouncing and responding to other artists’ input and sharing the credit. Collaborative work is just way more fulfilling and fun.
What are/is the biggest challenge(s) that artists in El Paso face?
In recently years I’ve noticed how the art economy here is beginning to take shape. We still have a ways to go. Healthcare for artists and their families is a huge deal when it comes to living on a nearly non-existent local creative economy. It will probably take more than just the city to help create that. Hopefully the organizations like the El Paso Artists Guild will help make it possible for that to exist here.
Photographs courtesy of Mitsu Overstreet