N Line station artwork pays tribute to a piece of Colorado history


Horse Installation 3

N Line station artwork pays tribute to a piece of Colorado history   


As your N Line train pulls into the 48th Brighton•National Western Complex Station, horses will be running alongside the train. But, don’t worry – they aren’t real. They are RTD’s latest art installation called “Horses in Motion,” created by 48-year-old artist Travis Emmen. 

“I like creating things that have movement; making something stagnant come to life,” Travis said.  

RTD prides itself on having art at every rail station and some bus depots. The agency chose Travis’ work because it fits in perfectly at the station that’s adjacent to a Colorado institution -- the National Western Stock Show. This livestock show and festival – held annually every January at the National Western Complex in Denver – has showcased cattle since 1906. A horse show was added in 1908.  

It took most of the day for the artwork to be installed. 

“I call them ‘Freedom.’ They are running along with an iron horse – the train – running in freedom. They are living their life,” Travis said. 

The three horses are made of Corten Steel and took about a year to make. Corten Steel  (sometimes known as weathered steel) is a group of steel alloys that are often used in outdoor construction. Corten Steel was designed to eliminate the need for painting and if left outside, exposed to the elements, they will develop a rusted appearance in just a few months, but is corrosion resistant. 

To make these steel statues he found an image in the shape of what he was going for, projected the image on a wall and traced an outline of that image and then expanded it out to a life-sized shape. He then built a skeleton structure, eyeballing it and taking a few measurements all by hand. He built a frame inside the skeleton, he added the “skin” – or sheet metal – and shaped it by hand hammering and welding them together.  

Travis has been creating art since he was young. His mom didn’t have a babysitter so she would take him to her art classes at the local community college in Boise, Idaho. 

This is Travis’ first public art piece. Other art he has created has been for private use/collections. 

There was nothing in the area when Travis first visited the site, or “lots of life, but no living,” as he says. 

“I’m glad they are in their home. Maybe they’ll bring more life to that area,” which is still pretty industrial.  

If you’re ever in the area or at the station, be sure to visit the art. Travis says some artists don’t like people touching their work, but he encourages it and takes it as a compliment. He also wants to inspire viewers of his art. 

"Hopefully, whoever is viewing it gets inspired in feeling life and movement; when I make something, I like to have movement, something that draws people in.”