Meaning of mystery billboards explained

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Some eye-catching billboards have been getting a lot of attention for the past month. The messages are part of a youth art project, and they are sparking discussion.

One message says, “Green chile from the ghetto.” Its creator is Lora Werito, a 16-year-old artist.

“I didn’t mean ghetto in a negative term. I wanted to take back ghetto and use it in a more positive way, reinterpret it,” said Werito.

“South Valley is where I come from. South Valley is my home. South Valley is something that I am proud of,” she said.

Rosalie Lopez is visual art program director at Working Classroom, a non-profit arts organization.

“South Valley is home. That’s the root of the project,” says Lopez.

Lopez said students created 24 billboard images.

“Art is supposed to sprawl discussion, so that was the main intent for this project,” she said.

Social media was abuzz with the meaning of the messages. Speculation ranged from whether it’s a campaign against downtown growth to someone else wondering if the signs were hacked.

Jonathan Burciaga-Cruz, another student artist, said, “It did seem to spark a lot of controversy.”

His billboard was Viva El Arte. “Kind of the Spanish way of saying may art live on,” he said.

“When I thought of the South Valley, I immediately thought of the art I would find in the South Valley,” Burciaga-Cruz said.

Werito added, “There’s so much culture here. There’s nothing bad about the South Valley in my eyes.”

The billboards are located at 8th and Bridge and Lead and Broadway and cycle through other advertisements, but we’re told they won’t be up for too much longer.

The art project was paid for by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and Bernalillo County. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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