A spiky metallic plant with colors changing and fading from light purple, blue, and green greets the visitor approaching Albuquerque on I-40 from the east. The public art installation welcomes you to the city. The state’s Interstate Corridor Enhancement Plan and the city of Albuquerque commissioned Gordon Huether to create the project in 2003.
New Mexico’s state flower is the yucca flower, the 1927 legislation did not designate a specific plant of the forty-something species. So Huether, the sculptor, chose the Datil Yucca for his model. The sculpture stands twenty-two feet high and fifteen feet wide. It was created from salvaged aluminum fuel tanks from F-16 aircraft. The tanks were sliced vertically to portray the shape of the yucca leaves.
The exaggerated size of the yucca celebrates the romance and nostalgic memory of Historic Route 66. The giant yucca illuminated by LED solar energy slowly changes color in an attempt to portray the hues of the desert landscape around Albuquerque and New Mexico.