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an Axle 2023 Nanogrant winner



Christy Hengst | Art in the Loo


Art in the Loo is a city-wide public art project starting this summer: about 50 small paintings of Yucca plants will be installed anonymously in public bathroom stalls all over Santa Fe, for the duration of one year. 



The pieces include lithography, drawing, painting and encaustic; 5”x7" or 9”x 12”, depending on location.  Mounted on thin wood panel, they are affixed to the bathroom stall wall or door with strong but damage-free adhesive.

A website address (on a removable sticker) next to the painting goes to a map of Santa Fe with all the locations.  There is no advertising, no name of the artist visible. For the person going to the bathroom, it is anonymous.


To make participation easy: Host sites are not responsible for damage or theft (some loss is expected as part of the character of the project); there will be no trace left at the end of the installation; and participation is free!


Meanwhile, an unusual invisible network will be formed amongst many different types of places in Santa Fe. The paintings create this invisible network, linked by content (the Yucca plant), the map of all the locations, a book which will include photos of all the installations, and at the end, an exhibit with all the paintings in one room.          


Possible locations include laundromats, restaurants, libraries, cafes, gas stations, the airport, the Farmer’s Market, the Motor Vehicle Division, Walmart, Discount Tire!  Art in the Loo is for a wide variety of people, including people who don’t normally go to see art — everybody has to go to the bathroom!


Santa Fe artist Christy Hengst has a long history of planting art in unexpected places.  Some of her public projects include three bus stops, two collaborative haiku trails, playground structures for parks and plazas, a circle of pictures treasure hunt, and the four year traveling installation Birds in the Park.  She also organized the 2014 conference in Santa Fe “Evolving Intentions in Public Art”. (transcript book published by Axle). 


In this case, Art In The Loo aims to create an element of  surprise and aesthetic pleasure in a place that typically is not considered in that way.  Give a little lift where it’s needed most.


If you are in charge of a location that would like to participate in Art In The Loo, please let Christy know as soon as you can, so that we can add your location to the map.  Placement of paintings will begin in July.



Contact info: Christy Hengst, (505) 920-5765,  email:

Hengst - M.Chase-Daniel for web3.jpg


Christy Hengst is based in Santa Fe, NM; her work includes large community oriented public art projects as well intimate-scale studio paintings.


Sense of place and connection with the environment have been major themes in Hengst’s work.  Site-specific public pieces include a treasure hunt of paintings in a small town in Massachusetts, three bus stops in Santa Fe, a large collaborative sculpture for a plaza in Cuenca, Ecuador, two collaborative Haiku Paths and the four-year traveling international installation "Birds in the Park”.   


Hengst’s studio work explores relationship with the landscape, self and other.  Her mixed media paintings draw on experience with many materials and techniques, including forms of printmaking such as silkscreen and solar plate.  Hengst’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums locally, nationally and internationally.


Hengst is mother of two, and married to blacksmith Helmut Hillenkamp, with whom she has collaborated on many a project.

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