Monday, September 13, 2010

Escuela Tlatelolco Mural

For weeks, I watched this mural unfold as background to the early morning chill of spring and the traffic whizzing by on Park Ave West. Sometimes in the afternoon, on my way home from work, the students would be busy painting and I would take photos from across the intersection as they glanced back at me. I watched them sit in groups or work in twos supporting each other on a ladder while the teacher offered instruction up and down the length of the project.

It was late May when I finally stopped to ask what it all meant and who they were. Jaime Gomez, a teacher at Escuela Tlatelolco, took a few minutes to explain the mural and the process. As any good procrastinator would mention right about now... I should have done this blog post back then when they were weeks away from completion. But alas I blew my chance and let this information disintegrate in my brain.

SO - as far as I can remember, the mural was a project instigated by another art teacher at the school. This is her second time putting up a mural in the city. She won about $400 selling her artwork at a show in town (if I remember right - she might have won an art contest) and used it to purchase paint for this mural. The owner of the building had donated the side of the wall to use as a project for her students, who would participate in bringing this artwork to fruition during school hours. They had been perfecting their own likeness all semester and, in that way, each student was incorporated in to the mural.

The mural is a consideration of the effects of capitalism on nature and our society. From the left end, the subject matter moves from the mountains where there is music and nature, flowers and a rainbow. The people on that side are pulling on a chains wrapped around the heart of the world, which gives it life. From the right end, the chains are being pulled by people entrenched in modern day society, which is more concerned with money, producing food, and bringing it to the City – the place where dreams are made. In the middle, the chains are breaking from the cogs - the system is not working.

There are so many other great pieces to consider in the art. I wish I could remember what the wings behind the planet represent; what the fire breathing snakes represent; what these people on the chains throwing the spindles mean (perhaps how industry can destroy your heart's desires)...

But most importantly, what is the name of the mural?!

The one thing I do remember is how much the surrounding community benefits from these types of projects. Consider this: $400 and some run of the mill building on ugly old Park Ave West turns in to artwork. Students get the chance to experience real-life application of their studies and take pride in a major accomplishment that the whole community can enjoy. The community is brightened by something beautiful to look at and converse about rather than the run of-the-mill graffiti (which I do love too in it's own artistic way).

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