The Mexican Heritage Plaza, a museum and cultural center, was established in 1999. The plaza is located at the heart of San Jose’s oldest and largest Mexican-American culture. Its goal is to be able to capture the spirit of the Mexican-American community. Be able to present and showcase the work of ethnic performing art companies and visual artists. And lastly, be able to provide education, programming focusing on their history and culture.
The mural, entitled, “The Artistic Mestijaze”, was made by Carlos Perez, together with eight carefully selected students from Mathson Middle High Shool. It all started when Perez was asked by the Mexican Heritage Plaza to create an educational mural that would involve art-interested students. The chosen students underwent a three months training under Carlos Perez; they were taught the process of creating a mural, under Perez’ supervision. The mural shows the social and cultural influences acquired from the Spanish and Mexican artists.
The mural was composed of ten panels dedicated to a specific artist, such as, Mexican artists,
Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo; San Francisco artist Yolanda Lopez; and Spanish artist – Pablo Picasso. The famous paintings done by the chosen artists are reinvented. Each participating student will incorporate their personality and view on the original design of the painting. The original painting will serve as their inspiration, and will follow the design, however, they will input their own personality or touch of design in the mural. One of the project’s goal was to encourage young people to stay away from bad things present in the streets. The project also brought the community’s closeness. Aside from the two reasons above, another benefit for the participating student-artists, is that they will be remembered for the work of art they have created. Their self-esteem and awareness would also boost. And they would be able to inform and teach other people too. As quoted from chosen student-artist, Jessica Martinez, “Some people learn by reading, but by seeing the stories, you could imagined what has happened.
People can learn the stories without reading them.” Jessica hopes that people would learn a thing or two by merely looking at the mural because as she had said also, “Sometimes history can be forgotten”. Which is really happening now a days, proper education regarding the artists and their contribution are not being passed on the new generation of kids. Over-powered by today’s technology, we must still not forget the beautiful & inspirational creations of our respected artists, regardless of our nationality. From the view of Rodolfo Fuentes, another participant in making the mural said, “I thought it would be easy at first”. He hopes that maybe when someone will see it, he/she would be inspired. One may think that creating the mural would be a simple process, but no. There were a lot of factors to consider such as – the ideas and designs for the mural must come from the original work of the chosen artist and the materials to be used must be suited for outdoor conditions. The mural project also served as an opportunity for the children to leave a lasting impression for their community. The mural made, was the first to be done with the participation of the community. The artists were chosen for their contributions, both for the art world and to the society.
Upon seeing the image of the mural in the internet, I was amazed at how lively the chosen colors were. The touch of traditional art was mixed with modern graffiti, that will surely attract young people, and change their mind about how they perceive history and art creations. It’s a rich combination of Mexican and Spanish culture from the forms of entertainment they have; to the skills one must have to be or the things one must do to become a helping hand for the community. Like, young people can start by planting plants to help the environment, make it a cleaner place to live in. Metaphorically speaking, it can be interpreted that young people must start creating their dreams, or start making a good difference in their respective communities. What caught my attention too was the painting of the sun, which was big and brightly yellowed, it is underneath a being dressed in white, which from my interpretation symbolizes unity and calmness in this world. Another interpretation I had made, is for the big tree wherein hands are near each other, symbolizing the community’s willingness to help one another.
The images contained in the mural is a mix of ideas from the original artists and the selected students. The community that created the mural was driven by the idea to create a piece of art that will showcase their rich history with the help of famous artist, Carlos Perez together with carefully selected students to show to the younger generations that history must live and be recognized. They have shared their interpretation of the works of these artists, by injecting their own personality, emotions, views with a touch of modern designs. The theme of the mural “The Artistic Legacy and Contributions of Hispanic Artists”. They aim to promote the renowned works of these famous artists in a refreshing way that would leave a message to the younger generation. And would persuade these younger generations to enhance their artistic talents, so as to improve their well-being and make use of their talents properly. And lastly, the project was a perfect opportunity to engage young students positively and constructively to create experiences that would inspire them to do good and achieve better things for the society and themselves.
The result was good for the selected students, after the three months workshop and after they had finished the mural. They’ve learned many things, that painting isn’t only about the image to be created but it’s a mix of understanding the elements that would affect the painting as a whole-such as the material and idea; the message that would be relayed to the public/viewer of the art creation; the connection of the painting to its creator; and the expression of the artist’ emotions/view/personality must be present in his/her work. The students who participated boosted their self-confidence and made a difference. They were set as an example to their generation that thru their small deeds, by reinventing the works of history, they can reinvent the presentation of these works. They can make it interesting and appropriate for teenagers or kids of their age. They have found a way to bring their community closer and at the same time, they were able to inspire other teens. One doesn’t need to be a well trained painter or an artist, but one must keep in mind to enhance the talents he/she possesses.
It was a successful project, the viewers were informed and they had accepted the idea behind the mural. Most were amazed at how beautifully done the mural was even if it was created by students. And it has created a new inspiration for the younger generations, sending them the message that they can revive history, and that there is a fun and alternative way to learn history. That art works, can still be related to our modernized world today. The project was able to bring the community closer, and practice unity. Unity from the student’s participation, the teacher’s and school’s support towards their training; and the public for accepting the idea behind the mural. And the project’s objective were met, which indicates that the project is really a success. The artist, chosen students and organizers must still wait for a couple of months or years, to hear feedbacks from a big population; what they like about the mural and what they don’t; how public viewers will interpret the mural; and how it will affect their views in life or views regarding the Mexican & Spanish culture.
The project was organized aiming to discover or reinvent the Mexican & Spanish culture thru their famous artists and art creations with help from their community. The organizers specifically chose Carlos Perez to head in making the mural and in training the selected students in preparation for the creation of their dream mural. It took three months of workshops to inform these students of the things they need to learn before making the mural. Thru the workshops held, they’ve realized that painting isn’t about the image one would be creating but it’s a collaboration of the proper materials needed; the connection between the art work and the painter, how he/she expresses himself/herself thru the said work. And the students participating also dreamed for one thing, they hope that the mural they made would inspire people or it would be able to tell what has happened in history. Even at a glimpse, they hope that viewers would learn something. The students also realized that a person doesn’t need to have a talent in drawing or painting; the knowledge he/she possesses is enough as long as he/she takes the time to enhance his/her skills. In which, hope was given to aspiring artists, because Perez has said that if a person is able to enhance his/her artistic talents, that person will become better in life, as a whole being, he/she will improve. Six murals were created by the students and four from Carlos Perez. The result was a 20 feet long and 48 inches long mural. It was installed outside the plaza building to prevent direct sunlight to the mural. It can be said that the mural project was a success, and that it was the first done. The community had become closer, and created a new history by the younger generation.
De Marcotte Mayra Flores. “Brushing Up”. 5 May 2006. 17 April 2008.
Hernandez, Aileen. “The Mexican Heritage Plaza presents Carlos Perez’s mural titled, “The
Artistic Mestizaje”. 5 May 2006. 17 April 2008.
Mexican Heritage Plaza Mural. 16 April 2008. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_Heritage_Plaza>