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School project brought to life the idea of an El Paso-Juarez trolley line

School project brought to life the idea of an El Paso-Juarez trolley line

By Amanda Duran

EL PASO – In an effort to explain the longstanding and sometimes complicated ties between border city El Paso, Texas and its Mexican sister city Juarez to fellow classmates at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Peter Svarzbein decided to create a fictional advertising campaign for the revival of a trolley system that would connect the two municipalities.

But he never expected his hometown to incorporate his graduate thesis art project into an actual city planning proposal that could possibly stimulate the economy in both countries, and reduce the risk of drunk driving accidents.

“I wanted to challenge the negative media representation about the border by using the media itself,” said Svarzbein.

Svarzbein, who now lives here, hosted a presentation on the El Paso Transitional Trolley Project recently at the University of Texas at El Paso. His talk, entitled Bridging Borders, was sponsored by UTEP as a part of the school’s DYNAMIC Communication Lecture Series.

A street car service was present in the El Paso/Juarez area from 1881 until 1974. (Amanda Duran/Borderzine.com)
Svarzbein, 31, said his intentions were never to push the project into reality, but now that his ideas have gathered support from local residents, he said he is very excited to see the concept receive passionate enthusiasm from others. “It’s hard to have a better future for ourselves as a city if you can’t even imagine one,” said Svarzbein.

The better future he imagined was proposed in the thesis in the form of a poster ad campaign because he thought that medium would have more lasting impact than the more traditional methods of an essay or documentary. Svarzbein said the method he chose to go with was unexpected and would therefore actually get people to stop and question what they were seeing and perhaps get excited about the possibilities.

Svarzbein started working on designs for the logo of his faux international trolley in February of 2010. Before and during the project, the eager artist…

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