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Seeing Texas in a whole new way

Joel Molina
Attendees point out a piece of art on display at the Texas as Art exhibit at the UTEP Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens.

“Variety and beauty” are words Rebecca Dodge used to describe Texas nature. Dodge, an Emeritus Assistant Professor of Geosciences from Midwestern University, was one of three artists who worked on the Centennial Museum’s newest art gallery “Texas as Art.” With eye-popping canvases showing state landscapes from false-colored satellite images to paintings showing the diverse flora of west Texas, the exhibition is a celebration of Texas natural charm. 

“This exhibit really combines art and science. Since we’re a natural and cultural history museum, that fits right into our mission,” said Fayelee Overman, a curator at the Centennial Museum. “All of these artists focus on Texas and a couple of them, specifically the Chihuahuan Desert in this area.” 

The gallery opened Sept. 9, welcoming the public to view all the work made by the three artists. Dodge is one of the artists featured in the exhibit, along with Liz Barlett Culp and Suzi Davidoff. While the three were unfamiliar prior to the exhibition, they were brought together through their craft. 

“Rebecca was kind of the backbone of this project. She approached us and she’s been taking this to other universities across West Texas,” said Daniel Carey-Whalen, director of UTEP’s Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens. “That’s where she met Liz, and then we connected her with Suzi.” 

Dotting the walls with bright greens, reds and yellows combined in infrared images of El Paso, state parks and many more locations are some pieces that turn geology into an art form. While some may think twice about considering these images art, they pull the gallery together with a blend of research and visuals. 

“It’s definitely different, but I think it all kind of combined together to make an interesting exhibit,” said Elisa Huizar, an intern at the Centennial Museum. 

Accompanying these bright artworks are paintings filled with natural colors and pastels, from a large blossoming cactus to a painting of one of Texas recognizable mountains. With these two forms of art, charcoal and wax prints sprawled across the walls joined them in showing the wonders of west Texas. 

“You look here, and you see the agricultural patterns here along the Rio Grande and then you see something that’s completely natural, this volcanic field,” Dodge said. “They’re totally different, beautiful and in different scales.” 

While many of the pieces look at the big features in west Texas, Davidoff’s works focus on the aspects of nature that might go unnoticed by some. Highlighting many native plants and other details of the El Paso environment, her pieces go hand in hand with the gallery’s mission. 

“I’m really interested in the idea of looking closely at things,” Davidoff said. “There’s a lot of that in the desert because most people think there’s nothing here.” 

From big to small, this exhibit is sure to include all that makes west Texas worth visiting. With a variety of styles and approaches, “Texas as Art” shows a variety of the Lone Star State’s natural wonders. 

For anyone interested in visiting the exhibit, it will be hosted from Sept. 9 to Jan. 27 at the Centennial Museum. Visit the Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens’ website for information on the exhibit and hours of operation. 

“It’s highlighting the beautiful vistas (in) west Texas,” said Evan Lopez, an education curator at the Centennial Museum. “It’s highlighting the importance of environmental and ecological stewardship.” 

Elisha Nuñez is a staff reporter and can be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributors
Elisha Nuñez
Elisha Nuñez, Staff Reporter
Elisha Nuñez is a multimedia journalism student with a minor in marketing at the University of Texas at El Paso.  He works as a reporter for The Prospector, and loves to write about arts, culture, and people. This semester, he wishes to do more freelance work for publications in and outside of El Paso. After graduation, he would like to experience multiple positions at different places, and even has plans for continuing his current education outside of the U.S.
Joel Molina
Joel Molina, Photo Editor
Joel is a graduate creative writing student at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is the photo editor who began his career at The Prospector in 2022. He hopes to continue providing the world and its people with different forms of storytelling that will hopefully make their day to day lives better.
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