Steve Schiff District Attorney Office | Albuquerque, NM | Laser-Cut, Rolled and Powder Coated Steel | 7’H x 4’1” DIA, 8’H x 4’8” DIA and 9’H x 5’3” DIA | 2021


The Art in Public Places Program of New Mexico Arts issued a national request for proposals for an exterior, site-specific art commission to be located at the Steve Schiff District Attorney Building in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The purpose of this commission was to create a non-traditional memorial that would provide a contemplative, healing, and uplifting space for victims and families dealing with the trauma of gun violence. After review from the Local Selection Committee, Gordon Huether’s concept, Luminaria, was chosen for its ability to convey the ideas of humanity, comfort, serenity, joy, and love.

Luminaria was ultimately inspired by three factors: cultural traditions from the local Hispanic community, the surrounding natural landscape, and a reoccurring theme Gordon found while researching memorials that reference gun violence or other violent tragedies – something Gordon refers to as “pop-up memorials”. “Pop-up memorials” are memorials created by the public at the scene of a tragedy. The affected community congregates and places things at the scene of the tragedy such as flowers, candles, teddy bears, flags, balloons, drawings, and personal messages. These items were all themes that influenced Gordon’s design for this memorial to victims of gun violence.

Luminaria, titled to reference a significant tradition in New Mexico: brown paper bags with cut out patterns, weighted down by sand and illuminated by candles from within, consists of three different sized sculptures accompanied by three cylindrical concrete seating components, placed among the sculptures to offer a space for seated contemplation and reflection. Each sculpture’s shape was inspired by the shape of a barrel cactus, native to the Albuquerque landscape, and is comprised of eight long “petals,” which start at the base and curve up to connect at the top. The dimensions of the sculptures are 7’H x 4’1”dia, 8’H x 4’8”dia and 9’H x 5’3”dia, and are made of 1/8” thick laser-cut, rolled and powder coated steel.

Each of the structure’s “petals” include visual content inspired by Mexican papel picado folk art. This visual content consists of typical images found in papel picado art and “pop-up memorials”, such as doves, flowers, sunbursts, hearts, teddy bears, praying hands, candles, and butterflies; thus drawing inspiration from humanity and the traditions that have helped communities cope in times of hardship.

Each of the three sculptures will be a different color, referencing the brilliant and uplifting colors of both the barrel cactus flowers and the papel picado folk art; and will be illuminated from within like lanterns, shining as a beacon of joy and love for all those in suffering both day and night.