This Blog was created to follow the progress of the mural at the San Juan, TX city pool to honor Braceros and Farmworkers. The mural is possible due to the generous funding provided be the City of San Juan, The Smithsonian Institute through a Community Grant sponsored by the MetLife Foundation and the University of Texas-Pan American’s Mexican American Studies (MAS) program (www.utpa.edu/mas), Cosecha Voices, USDA UTPA extension, Office of the Provost, Phi Iota Alpha, Mexican American Studies Club and Sigma Lambda Beta.
The idea of a mural to honor braceros and farmworkers emerged as students in the MCLL 2301: Mexican American Language, Literature and Culture courses routinely responded enthusiastically to the lesson taught on Chican@ muralism. Their response was “we want a mural.” Dr. Stephanie Alvarez upon hearing their desires remembered when she travelled with migrant students from UTPA to California in 2010 and learning that their favorite part of the trip was seeing the murals in San Francisco and a Chicana Art exhibit in San Jose. They stated that they had never seen anything like it. The students had a deep desire to see themselves reflected in art. Dr. Alvarez was in the process of securing a showing on campus of the Smithsonian Institute traveling exhibit on the Bracero Program, Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964. Moreover, over the last 5 years she has been directing the Cosecha Voices (www.utpa.edu/cosechavoices) program at UTPA, a program dedicated to providing students with the opportunity to document their experiences as migrant farmworkers. She approached Dr. Petra Guerra with the idea to have a mural executed in conjunction with the exhibit to honor the Braceros and Farmworkers of the Valley. Dr. Guerra herself a former migrant farmworker and activist in the Chican@ movement enthusiastically embraced the idea. Furthermore, she had previously worked with a muralist in Austin that she thought would be perfect and willing to take on the project—Raul Valdez http://www.raulvaldez.net. In October 2011, Chuy Ramirez arranged for a meeting with San Juan officials where students and faculty presented their desire for a mural to honor farmworkers and braceros. From day one, the City of San Juan completely embraced the project and quickly moved to approve the mural and its funding. Cosecha Voices and Phi Iota Alpha held a car show, the MAS Club held bake sales and sold BBQ Plates and six MAS faculty members wrote a winning “Community Grant” proposal from the Smithsonian Institute. For almost one year, UTPA students and MAS faculty held forums, conducted oral histories and surveyed the community to understand what they wished to see in the mural. This public community mural directed by Raul Valdez is an attempt to reflect the desires of the people. It is his desire that it not be his mural, but their mural.
Here we share with you the day to day progress made on the actual painting of the mural. Feel free to leave a comment, share with others or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mil Gracias, Christian Ramirez UTPA MAS Grad Certificate Alumnus & Ph.D. Student in Chicano/Latino Studies at Michigan State University.
A wonderful start to the bracero mural in the city of San Juan, TX.