CREATED FROM SINGLE-USE PLASTICS, the 82-foot Ethyl the Whale sculpture raises its dorsal ridge behind Santa Fe Community College. Commissioned by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, on the California coast, Ethyl was designed by artists Joel Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova, then built over a six-month span with aid from over 50 artists and volunteers. Ethyl holds the Guinness World Record for the largest recycled-plastic sculpture. “It was based on the idea that every nine minutes, the weight of a blue whale of plastic goes into the ocean,” Salnikova says. “We hope Ethyl has her own voice and can speak for herself.” Purchased by Meow Wolf, Ethyl was disassembled and driven 1,080 miles east in 2019 to her current home, where she’s become a powerful teaching tool for students. Suspended above the ground with her head held skyward, as if swimming through air, the whale presents a stark portrait of human waste. “We really wanted to embrace that issue, while showing that there is a way, that it’s not just despair,” Stockdill says. “There are solutions within this problem.”

Read more: The saguaro stands proudly outside the Sierra Grande Lodge, in Truth or Consequences.

Ethyl the Whale can be found at Santa Fe Community College. For directions, go to