Art Inspiration: Sculpture in the Desert

Desert Siren
By Morgan O’Donnell

Rising darkly from the desert
Rusted steel seizes sky and imagination
Sending silent summons

Eighteen feet of turquoise blue, calling
Calling, captivating, capturing
Capturing curiosity

Metal towering
Powering, transcending
A conduit between heaven and earth

Driving north from Las Cruces along I-25, it rose darkly from the flat land and scrubby desert growth reaching into a gray sky and calling me like a siren.

At first, I thought it was some errant tree. Then as we got closer, that perhaps it was a bit of leftover building. No. It was a sculpture looming up out in the distance. 

A sign for a rest area appeared as the sculpture grew larger. We pulled in hoping that it was nearby. No, that’s not exactly right. I was compelled to stop. Although we could see it from the rest stop, but it was still a bit away. Hmmm…at first I wondered about doing an off-road trek then I noticed a road that looked as if it went that direction. 

We hopped back in the car and onto the highway till the next exit. Then we backtracked along the frontage road till we came to the turnoff near the rest area. The road stretched out to the horizon like one of those roads in scary movies, the one you know you should never go down.

Yet we turned down it. There was an ominous sign saying the museum was closed. Museum? What museum? There was nothing but scrub as far as the eye could see. My inner Scooby voice said, “Ruh, roh!”

Still the sculpture called to me. I hopped out of the car and snapped this picture. 

I trotted down the road till I found a small dirt area where the car could turn in. I barely took time to read the small plaque naming it as Camino de Sueños or Road of Dreams before I dashed up the slight incline, following a faded path. 

And there it was. Larger than life. I could feel its energy in my bones, in my veins. I wanted to sit and absorb the silent desert, taste the clouds, become the steel.

Again, my ravens wheeled nearby.

Alas, the cold wind rushed around us like a winter river. So we headed back to the warmth of the car and left in the hopes of finding hot chocolate somewhere down the highway.


It’s not quite the end of the story. A sculpture like this doesn’t simply let go. This desert siren set its steel hooks in me.

I spent the evening Googling to learn more about this sculpture, the mysterious museum, and the sculptor. But my biggest question was how was this made? The question rolled in my mind as I drifted off to sleep.

I had already been casually looking for workshops or something more hands-on to help me learn how to better achieve some of the ideas in my head for a couple months, but hadn’t found anything that seemed to fit. The spell of the steel siren urged me on and the following day I intensified my search.

The power of the metal spirits prevailed and I found a sculpture program! My first class – Foundations of Shop – started two weeks. It was a long first day getting introduced to the various tools and set up of the shop. Even though it was the first day, we dove right in. I did my first plasma cutting and a bit of wobbly MIG welding!

This post powered by High Desert Sage Tea by Tea.o.graphy and Journey Into Night by Ramin Djawadi.

Resources and Links

Camino De Sueños by Greg Reiche – Learn more about the sculpture and which words by Ralph Waldo Emerson are incorporated into the structure. You can also visit Greg’s site and see some of his work in Albuquerque. You’ve probably passed it and didn’t even realize it.

Camino De Sueños Plaque

El Camino Real International Heritage Center – Read more about El Camino Real aka The Royal Road.

Latest Posts