January 16, 2020
Las Vegas, N.M. – Students at New Mexico Highlands University created a temporary projection installation for La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona that highlights the hotel’s rich railroad history.
During one weekend in January, the Highlands University students in the Media Arts and Technology Department designed a montage of typography and maps, historical photos, and modern animation, which they projected upon the façade of La Posada Hotel after dark.
Amtrak travelers viewed the brightly lit hotel façade display as they passed through Winslow, with some stopping at La Posada Hotel for the night and seeing the pop-up at the entrance. The hotel is part of a chain of historical Harvey House hotels that were built in Western railroad towns from the 1870s to the turn of the 20th century.
Allan Affeldt owns both La Posada Hotel and a sister Harvey House hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico called the Castañeda, which opened in 2019 after extensive renovations. Affeldt also owns the historic Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas.
“Night light shows like the one at La Posada Hotel connect the history of a place to travelers and the community,” Affeldt said. “I thought the La Posada project was beautiful. It was a sophisticated outcome that the media arts students created,” Affeldt said.
Affeldt said that Las Vegas has one of the most interesting histories in the region.
“For Highlands media arts to tell this historical story is really important to the prosperity and economic development of the Las Vegas area. We would love to work with media arts again to do similar night light shows at the Castañeda Hotel and the Plaza Hotel,” Affeldt said.
Miriam Langer chairs the Media Arts and Technology Department at Highlands.
“The students have a lot of experience putting together technology-based exhibits working with clients, but this La Posada Hotel experience was about whether they could pull something together quickly and deploy cutting-edge projection mapping in a new format with limited time,” Langer said.
Langer and other Highlands media arts faculty, including Angela Meron, Eli Gonzales and Lauren Addario, joined the students for the Winslow excursion to provide guidance and technical oversight.
The students took the Amtrak train from Las Vegas to Winslow Jan. 10, using travel time to develop the installation. They hit the ground running when they arrived in Winslow, putting the project together Jan. 11 in about seven hours – in time for the arriving train.
“There are more and more requests for this kind of temporary ‘pop up’ work, and we’re challenging ourselves to develop these skills,” Langer said.
Ali Romero, a media arts and technology senior from Las Vegas, was one of the nine students who worked on the La Posada Hotel project.
“It was very rewarding to join a group of students with amazing skill sets to produce a ‘pop up’ installation that connects history and technology,” Romero said. “This project was a great chance to showcase the juxtaposition between old and new via design and technology.”
Lily Padilla, a media arts and technology senior from Taos, New Mexico also worked on the La Posada Project.
“The La Posada project was an opportunity to use our technical skills and convey the hotel’s history with a modern twist,” Padilla said. “This project gave me more experience with historical installations, which I enjoy because they are a chance to translate historical stories that are often little known.”