Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

Spaceport America Gets Sculpture

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
March 31, 2015
Filed under ,
Genesis sculpture by Otto Rigan at entrance to Spaceport America. (Credit: New Mexico Spaceport Authority)

GENESIS sculpture by Otto Rigan at entrance to Spaceport America. (Credit: New Mexico Spaceport Authority)

A sculpture named GENESIS by artists Otto Rigan has been installed at the entrance of Spaceport America. The 2.5-ton sculpture was commissioned under New Mexico’s Art in Public Places program, which is mandatory for all major state-funded construction projects.

For all you art lovers, information about the artist and the sculpture is below courtesy of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority.

(via New Mexico Spaceport Authority)


Otto Rigan
P.O. Box 7878
Tucson, Arizona, 85725

Born in the Mojave Desert town of Muroc, California, the Artist spent his formative years growing up in Roswell, NM. He finished High School in Atwater, California, and pursued his studies in art at California State University in Turlock and the College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California. He continued his studies at the Accademia Di Belle Arte in Florence, Italy, and later worked at Her Majesties Theater in London, England. Mr. Rigan published four books about contemporary glass and alternative architecture while continuing the practice of his Art through his twenties. He found his way back to working full time as an artist in Santa Fe and Pojoaque, NM. In 2006 he moved to Arizona where he now works.


For all its international interest and potential importance as a gateway to commercial space, Spaceport America is virtually hidden in the vast New Mexican desert. As one approaches the developing facility the landscape dominates until the visitor is nearly upon it. In this rarified environmental context the sculpture marking the entry needed to address the vastness of this landscape in an elemental way, implying something both of the earth yet reaching for the stars simultaneously. It needed to be something timeless, and iconic.

Its name, GENESIS, was chosen as it speaks of new beginnings. Spaceport America, after all, is the first purpose-built commercial spaceport offering an invitation to space to everyone.

The artist found his design precedent in the ancient astronomical architectural forms of Janta Mantar in Jaipur, India. Like Janta Mantar, this sculptural form frames space and implies an orientation to the stars. Within the open arms of the sculpture is a section of the night sky illustrated by imbeds of cast glass. These mirrored glass inlays are imbedded into the iron like form of the sculpture yet reflect the sky. As such they respond to the ever changing light of its environment: the time of day, the seasons and even the slightest light of the night sky. The sculpture is of the earth, and of the sky. In it, they have come together.



The steel is common cold rolled steel.

The sculpture was fabricated as one unit, and then separated into three parts for shipping. Where the sections were separated, an internal substructure was created to enable the pieces to be reassembled and welded on site.

The extensive internal structure of the sculpture was engineered for wind and weight loads. The sub-grade foundation as well as the connection between the sculpture and the foundation were engineered.

The structure of the sculpture was sand-blasted to unify all the welds and clean the surface. Once clean, a simple rust patina was created by applications of a water/chlorine mix. This surface/patina will eventually become a rich brown with orange and black undertones with exposure to moisture and the elements.

There is no sealer on the surface of the sculpture so that the finish will be 100% natural with no risk of peeling or artificial discoloration.

Cast Glass

The glass was cast at Blenko Glass in Milton, West Virginia. Their method is to hand ladle hot glass into iron molds. This process creates an ‘organic’ handmade look, with purposeful imperfections generated by the process. Those imperfections can look create textures that make each piece of glass look unique.

The glass blanks were then hand-silvered at National Products in Louisville, Kentucky. The mirroring process exaggerates the textures inherent to the glass and in turn, creates more reflection.

In Arizona the cast glass blanks were water jet cut to the three sizes used in the sculpture.

The glass was then hand polished, and wrapped in a protective aluminum coating to insulate the mirror from exposure to moisture.

The finished units of glass were then inlaid into the sculpture using a silicone adhesive with an aggregate of colored sand applied to the exposed silicone seal.

The mirrored glass is passively lit by the changing light in the environment. There is no internal, artificial light source.


40’ wide X 23’ high X 5’ deep
11,000 lbs (2.5 tons)