UCSD shows off colorful mural that pays tribute to Chicano culture

Artist Mario Torero and UCSD Professor Jorge Mariscal were driving forces in the mural. Photo: UCSD
Artist Mario Torero and UCSD Professor Jorge Mariscal were driving forces in the mural. Photo: UCSD

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UCSD Press Release

The Chicano Legacy 40 Años mural, which covered the east wall of Peterson Hall on campus for two years, has been installed as a permanent mosaic. The 17-by-54- foot mural, made up of thousands of pieces of colored glass, was unveiled on May 25.

The art project was envisioned by students of UCSD’s Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) several years ago as a way to express Latino/a culture, and then brought to fruition by world-renowned San Diego-based artist Mario Torero.

Torero created the conceptual mosaic; after a long search, he found an art group in China — the Panyu Muralists Art Collective — who created the tiles for the mosaic.

The mural is a collage of vivid colorful images and features iconic figures such as César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, founders of the United Farm Workers Union, and San Diego landmarks Chicano Park and the Coronado Bridge. It is named in recognition of the 40th Anniversary of Chicano Park and of the Centro Cultural De La Raza in Balboa Park. It features icons of Chicano/a and Latino/a San Diego, the Coronado Bridge, the kiosk at Chicano Park and the border wall.

Torero said the iconic figures continue to resonate today not only for Chicanos but for all working families.

“These figures help convey to students that they have a choice to be a service to humanity. We are “artivists”— a connection between arts and activism. It’s a bridge, not confrontation, but the ‘mortar’ for change.”

Designed as an educational artwork for current students as well as future generations, the mural represents the Chicano/a movement and the historic struggle of individuals who fought for human rights.

For the first time in its history, UCSD has a permanent outdoor art installation that reflects the history of a minority community,” said literature Professor Jorge Mariscal, a driving force behind the Chicano Legacy 40 Años project from start to finish.

“The changing demographics of the 21st century soon will make Chicanos/Latinos a majority and the number of Chicano/a and Latino/a students at UC San Diego is rising. It is only fitting that the university celebrate these realities with a representational piece of art for the entire campus community, and, indeed, for all Californians.”

One of the champions of the mural was UC San Diego Vice Chancellor¬¬ – Resource Management and Planning Gary Matthews.

Originally commissioned as a temporary art project, Chicano Legacy demonstrates the diversity of California and symbolizes the campus commitment to providing a public education and a welcoming environment to all groups in both our region and state.

The mural was made permanent as part of the initiatives to embrace diversity, foster cultural awareness and improve the campus climate at UC San Diego.



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