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Statue represents sustainability efforts by University Museum

What began as an idea to complement a museum exhibit, the "Chac Mool" statue created an opportunity for the campus and community to become aware of the projects possible with recycled goods.

Emilia Casillas created the statue "Chac Mool" almost entirely out of scraps and materials that would have otherwise been thrown away. (Courtesy photo by Jennifer Wayman)

Emilia Casillas, a senior majoring in biology, created her display after museum director Monte McCrossin suggested that a Chac Mool statue would be a great supplement to the museum's hosting of the traveling exhibit "Temple of Warriors." Casillas took on the project, creating the statue out of various scraps of paper and other office waste.

"I decided to take the challenge," Casillas said "I think it's important for people to know about projects like this and see how materials can be reused."

The statue was modeled after a Chac Mool found at the base of the Temple of Warriors in Chichen Itza, Mexico. The Chac Mool is a reclining human figure holding a bowl or vessel over its stomach which is believed to hold offerings.

Casillas built a sturdy wood frame for the statue to ensure that children visiting the museum would be able to climb onto it. She constructed the body and arms with cardboard, Styrofoam and shredded paper waste she obtained from departments around campus, all of which would have otherwise been tossed away.

Casillas even used a thrown out Styrofoam tortilla warmer to make the statue's hat and offering bowl and covered the figure in an outer shell of "papercrete," a mixture of scrap paper and concrete.

"Chac Mool" was displayed in the courtyard of the University Museum and acted as an addition to the "Temple of Warriors" exhibit. In fact, when the exhibit was moved from NMSU to the El Paso Museum of Archaeology, Chac Mool went with it. It is now on display in the Museum of Archaeology through Oct. 4.

Casillas refers to her creation as "Scrap Mool." This is just one of the museum's sustainability efforts on campus.