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...and the River Rolls On...

Cindy Atchison Sculpture – Median View

This work of art could offer us the rare opportunity to freeze our river for a moment and capture what we think best reflects our community and its fascinating, formidable citizens, environment and history.


From miners to farmers, outdoor enthusiasts to train geeks, entrepreneurs to kindergarteners, there's one notion in Durango that any living thing can agree upon: the Animas River offers life to lost souls, serving as the heartbeat of the Animas Valley and the sage-dusted mesas beyond.


It tumbles through town year after year rejoicing in gravity and the distinctive honor of being one of the last free-flowing rivers in Colorado. Unwavering in its course and character, the Animas doesn't take this independence lightly and pours its whole heart into going with the flow.


While the Animas rolls on, our diverse inhabitants come and go, but, if you look hard enough, you'll see a nitty-gritty swirl of unchanging undercurrents churning just below the surface. These undercurrents grow stronger as they're fed by an inspired citizenry dedicated to doing just as the river does: enduring.


Our list of undercurrents is endless: a colorful, complicated history; an affinity for the dirt-caked organic; an unparalleled athletic prowess. While the cast and climate shifts, we lean on the Animas for perspective to keep moving forward. It's taught us to root down for nutrients and open ourselves up to the power of collaboration that spans cultures, politics and beer preferences. Whether people are moving to town or just passing through, a sculpture at Durango’s gateway should share this message of endurance through the ages, representing the spirit of the river itself and the grit of folks determined to make a life here.


These traits are magnified in my sculpture proposal, "And the River Rolls On." The rolling, frothing 'waves' of this compelling piece are designed to celebrate not only the river that shapes our livelihoods but also the gorgeously-complex community undercurrents pulsing healthily as time goes by. 

Cindy Atchison Sculpture – Single Panel


“And the River Rolls On” is a series of 26 waves carefully crafted from 8’ x 4’ oxidized steel panels. Each panel will be etched with symbols representing our community undercurrents, and embellished with mosaics crafted from recycled glass, river stones and found objects collected in community river field trips.


While the panels are static, they’re angled and spaced equally so that drivers passing by will sense a growing wave swelling and crashing beside them during the 600 foot-long driving experience. 


Just as our Animas always changes, each viewing experience might vary. The sculpture flows differently when headed upriver or down. How the river sculpture reveals itself will depend on your speed, the weather, the time of day, or even the lane of traffic. Just as every visitor and citizen of Durango interacts with our town in their own way, your visual experience will be different as a cyclist, driver, passenger or pedestrian.


And just as our town has continually evolved, the sculpture honors our past while celebrating our present and highlighting our dreams for the future. Each panel could feature a different theme, illustrated by icons, symbols and objects chosen and developed by our community. 


The symbols and wave design is up to you. Your voice is needed for this piece to speak!

Cindy Atchison Sculpture – Drive-by Simulation

DRIVE-BY SIMULATION: While the steel wave panels are static, they’re angled and spaced equally so that drivers passing by will sense a growing wave swelling and crashing beside them during the 600 foot-long driving experience. 


We Durangoans LOVE our public art! Both young and old will partner to create and fine-tune "And the River Rolls On" to best capture our collective essence. This design is flexible, and your participation is a critical piece of this powerful work of art. I want to see how you would create a wave, hear what you think are Durango's undercurrents and why you feel proud to call this place home. Starting with gathering ideas from Durango's youngest and gaining momentum with middle and high school students and adults,  groups will create this sculpture through summer camps, school groups and public workshops. We’ll discuss the power of visual communication and how to symbolize your favorite aspects of Durango.


Elementary School Participation:     

• river field trips, gathering stones, modeling clay waves, drawing wave flipbooks, cutting wave panels

Middle and High School Participation:     

• river and ReclaMetal field trips, drawing wave flipbooks, symbol development, metal fabrication study

Public Workshops:     

• river and ReclaMetal field trips, refine symbolic icons, create mosaics, refine wave designs, fabricate wave panels

Cindy Atchison Sculpture – Participation Process

This is your public art. Your voice is needed for this piece to speak! Dream big and join your community in the conceptualization and creation of "And the River Rolls On."


"And the River Rolls On" represents that, although faces and seasons change, constancy remains. We shouldn't fear change but rather celebrate our liberation as a free-flowing paradise that welcomes the passionate and stalwart alike. Thank you for participating in public art and for choosing to join me as we embark on an adventure that's guaranteed to stop traffic (just kidding, CDOT).


With more than 25 years of graphic design, 2D and 3D art, and just as many in community development and volunteer efforts, I’m capable of telling Durango’s story through a work of art we can celebrate for years to come. My greatest passion is blending multiple ideas and lofty concepts into reality, whether through steel architectural graphics, signage, package design, business identity, logos or painting.

Since moving to Durango in 2003, I’ve focused on giving back to the community my family and I call home. I have supported design and art education in Durango from the ground up, whether as designer for the Durango School District 9-R logos, as co-captain of Riverview Elementary LEGO League, Liberty School graphic designer and volunteer mom, Mountain Middle School Adobe Illustrator instructor and designer of MMS architectural graphics, or mentor for Animas High School graphic design internships. To view my portfolio and learn more, visit

Cindy Atchison
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