Inside Cj Hendry’s Project to Build a Pool in the Las Vegas Desert

The installation lives on in sculptures and drawings that the artist is selling on her website.

An aerial view of the installation. Courtesy of CJ Hendry

Cj Hendry is making fans blink twice again. Last weekend, the Instagram sensation unveiled her latest spectacle: a 50-foot long inflatable pool ringed with chaise lounges, a real life mirage situated in the Sandy Valley Ranch an hour outside of Las Vegas. The installation, titled Public Pool, elaborated on Hendry’s previous works, like the adult Chuck E. Cheese she built in Brooklyn last year. To commemorate her latest effort, Hendry dropped a capsule collection of merch and art that’s now entirely sold out on her site.

A photograph of a girl standing roadside before a mock highway sign amongst desert tumbleweeds

Hendry with the sign. Courtesy of Cj Hendry

Hendry told PRINT that Public Pool arose from a desire to spark connection and wonder in visitors’ hearts. “I really wanted to play up the juxtaposition of a desert against a gigantic pool to capture and provoke a strong sense of an oasis and the kitsch vibes of Vegas,” Hendry added over email. A lone highway sign alerted attendees that they were 10 miles out from Public Pool, with one single flower beneath. “There’s nothing for miles but sand, tumbleweeds, and mountains, but then you see this colossal pool with bright floral floaties and umbrellas and think, ‘what is happening here? And, can I jump in?’”

An aerial photograph of the corner of an inflatable white pool with colorful floral toys in the middle of the desert

A still-pristine installation view. Courtesy of Cj Hendry

The answer was yes. Public Pool was only three feet deep, so kids and adults could take a dip amongst the colorful pool toys without lifeguard supervision. In addition to procuring porta potties, Hendry also hired a water company to irrigate her oasis. It took numerous trips across the desert to fill Public Pool. Throughout the installation’s three-day run earlier this month, its water grew less azure and more murky, adding a time-based element to the artwork. But before that, on April 4, guests gathered around a long white table crowned with oversized pool toys for a private dinner.

A photo of three figures seen from the rear amongst a stark desert landscape and blue skies

Scoping out the site. Courtesy of Cj Hendry

Hendry’s squad started scouting locations for Public Pool last year. They visited six spots, all just outside of Sin City, since she knew she wanted to honor its famous hotel pool parties. Sandy Valley Ranch was the most remote of all their options, but this real working farm alone offered her the perfect canvas—an untouched yet majestic open space crowned with mountains—to host new fans and beloved supporters. Revelers arrived in droves to hang out with the artist herself, who was onsite ensuring guests wore sunscreen.

A photograph of the corner of an all-white inflatable building with a flower-shaped cut out amidst a desert background

Corner view of the cabana. Courtesy of Cj Hendry

Each installation that Hendry stages is accompanied by a series of artworks—typically her signature hyperrealist drawings, or resin sculptures masquerading as other materials. It’s an elegant symbiosis where the artwork makes her installations real, and the installations make her art newsworthy. On the evening of April 7, she dropped 12 variations of sculptures resembling pool floaties in editions of 100, each priced at $795. She also released 10 new original drawings of pool floaties, for $19,900 a pop. Every artwork, along with the pool towels, caps, and t-shirts on offer, have swiftly been snapped up.

A photograph of a green resin sculpture made to look like a plastic inflatable, handled by an off-screen professional whose white gloves are holding the piece

Cj Hendry, Sullivan (2024). Courtesy of Cj Hendry

Now, Hendry’s working with the Ranch to recycle the water from Public Pool into their farming and agriculture activities. She also plans to have the pool repurposed into furniture, leaving no trace, like it was all just a dream.

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