Portuguese artist Bordalo II spent several days in El Paso creating a 64-foot mountain lion mural using recycled trash on the west wall of the ONE San Jacinto building in Downtown El Paso.
Bordalo II uses discarded materials such as dismantled jungle gym sets, slides, tires and pieces from recycle bins and other local plastic waste to create unique designs.
Bordalo II communicates with his assistants from across the street, making sure all the pieces to the installation are placed properly.

El Paso Inc. Assignment Editor / Reporter
Portuguese artist Bordalo II spent several days in El Paso creating a 64-foot mountain lion mural using recycled trash on the west wall of the ONE San Jacinto building in Downtown El Paso.
Artur Bordalo always had a fondness for animals.
He also loves nature and graffiti art.
“It’s super cool,” he said. “When I was young, I started to do graffiti art on the street. Eventually, I began to connect my love of animals, the environment and art, and used public space to do what I do.”
The Portuguese artist – who goes by Bordalo II – has gone from spray-painting in the streets of Lisbon to using trash to create stunning 3-D animal sculptures to raise awareness of animals being impacted by pollution and the importance of sustainability.
Bordalo II and two of his assistants were in El Paso on Aug. 18-20 installing a 64-foot mountain lion mural using recycled trash on the west wall of the ONE San Jacinto building in Downtown El Paso.
Bordalo II uses discarded materials such as dismantled jungle gym sets, slides, tires and pieces from recycle bins and other local plastic waste to create unique designs.
“I look at it as a responsibility,” he said while standing underneath the structure at the corner of North Mesa and Franklin streets. “Don’t care about cars or cool sneakers of anything like that. I just want something better for the world.”
This project is part of a Big Trash Animals series of murals that he’s been installing all over the world using reclaimed materials.
“The idea is not to make something beautiful out of trash that people can stop and take pictures of,” Bordalo II said. “I want people to take a deeper look into the material we are using and the animals that we are creating. I don’t think the way we are living is sustainable.”
There is irony in his work, he said.
“The very material we use, the waste and the trash itself, is contaminating and polluting our environment and destroying nature and the animal’s habitat,” he said. 
The process begins with a sketch of what he wants to create, in this case, a mountain lion.
After building a metal skeleton for the sculpture on the wall, he paints the prepared material – dismantled jungle gym sets, slides, tires and pieces from recycle bins and other local discarded plastic waste – in unique and exciting colors in the nearby parking garage.
All pieces of the installation were found within the Paso del Norte region.
“The idea is not to make something beautiful out of trash that people can stop and take pictures of. I want people to take a deeper look into the material we are using and the animals that we are creating. I don’t think the way we are living is sustainable.”
Artur Bordalo, Bordalo II
Using a large crane, Bordalo II’s partners placed the plastic pieces in the designated areas under his direction as he used a walkie-talkie from across the street to guide them. 
The public art project is a collaboration between the Green Hope Project, Franklin Mountain Investments and the Paso del Norte Community Foundation.
Candace Printz, president of the Green Hope Project, said the project began several years ago when her students at El Dorado High School began working on environmental education initiatives, including the annual “Trash to Treasure” recycled material art competition. It became high-profile, drawing attention from Chelsea Clinton and Bordalo II himself. 
“The students did research on environmental artists, and they came across Bordalo,” Printz said. “They thought he was amazing because he was doing artwork with trash. They really connected with him because he did graffiti art and he was closer to their age. They saw someone who was doing something with these concerns they had.”
In 2017, the group of student environmentalists from the Green Hope Project emailed Bordalo II to see if he was interested in during something in El Paso.
He responded, agreed to the El Paso project, and Green Hope began gathering the funds.
Then, COVID hit.
“Everything came to a screeching halt,” Prinz said. “Because of the fear that the delay would continue longer and longer, some of the backers pulled out because they didn’t know if this was going to happen. We sat on it for about two-and-a-half years until I reached out to him late last year asking him if he still wanted to do it, and he said yes.”
But because of COVID, the prices on everything needed to complete the project increased.
“We have been doing tons of fundraising and looking for sponsors to offset the cost,” Prinz said. “In reality, we’re a little nonprofit, I have no idea how we got such a big thing going on. It just kind of snowballed.”
The total project cost is about $140,000, Printz said, adding that the organization has reached 70% of their goal between financial contributions and in-kind donations.
Bordalo II communicates with his assistants from across the street, making sure all the pieces to the installation are placed properly.
“Our growing collection of murals add to our Downtown character, personality, culture and unique identity,” said Joe Gudenrath, executive director of the El Paso Downtown Management District. “This amazing work of art will be viewed by countless El Pasoans and visitors with its placement near San Jacinto Plaza and along our historic streetcar route.”
This is the first installation by Bordalo II in Texas and there are fewer than 15 in the United States.
His art redefines the public’s notions of street art.
He hopes to remind people how much waste they emit daily, and even encourage them to reuse or reduce consumption to save the planet.
“I don’t think everybody will understand the message,” Bordalo II said. “If a small percentage does, I’ll be happy with that. If we can change the way people think about the environment, especially the younger generation who are going to be left with what we have done to the Earth, then we are going to be fine.”
Bordalo II, 35, said he belongs to a generation that is extremely consumerist, materialist and greedy.
“With the production of things at its highest, the production of ‘waste’ and unused objects is also at its highest,” he said. “Sometimes people don’t recognize that their simple routines are too much, we are using too many resources too fast and turning them into trash, waste and pollution.”
He uses the world around him to inspire his creations.
“The inspiration is the reality of the present,” he said. “I’m inspired by what I see, by what’s around me. What we do in the present, and how we are living at the moment, will have a lasting impact on our future. If there is something important that is happening in this moment, that really matters, it will be the subject of my work.”
Email El Paso Inc. features editor Victor R. Martinez at vmartinez@elpasoinc.com or call 915-534-4442 ext. 134

El Paso Inc. Assignment Editor / Reporter
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