In a matter of four weeks the San Juan municipal pool has been transformed into a statement of resiliency and cultural affirmation for the community of the Rio Grande Valley. Creating a narrative that gives voice to our bracero past and farmworkers, muralist Raul Valdez became the vesal by which this mural was completed. With a team of dedicated individuals, Mr. Valdez was able to complete one of the first bracero murals in the RGV. This important work acknowledges those men who might not have been afforded the same opportunities available in the present. It is our sincere opptomostic hope that this mural is a reflection of their sacrifice and triumph.
The final two day of painting were spent working on some finishing details along the east wall and Toltec column. Also, some children attending swimming lessons also help in painting the “Kids Wall” under the covered entrance. For many of them, this was the first time they had ever seen a mural. Exposing our young community members to muralism was rewarding for the team as they helped each child with their designs.
Erica Herrera and Camille Gerhardt work on finalizing the east wall.
On the final day, all sides of the mural where coated with varnish to protect and give a lasting quality to the paint. Supporting our team were two UTPA alumni who donated their time to help in any way they could. Stephanie Brock and Anna Bell Salamanca assisted with some final detailed paint and varnish.
Joining us from La Union del Pueblo Entero (L.U.P.E) was Juanita Valdez-Cox. Her support through out this project is greatly appreciated. Before leaving for the day Juanita assured the team that the work being done was not unnoticed and very much valued by the community. The expression of gratitude came at the end of our work day and the completion of the bracero and farmworker mural.
In conclusion, we would like to thank all those that were involved directly and indirectly with this mural. The city of San Juan, TX has set forth an invitation for cultural reflection and affirmation for our community. UTPA’s Mexican American studies program and faculty have made great efforts to exposing their students to the importance of inclusion, cultural awareness, and community engagement. This project is evidence of their goal. We hope that this is the first of many murals to adorn our region along the borderlands. As our history and narratives become continuously pushed to the margins, murals such as the one in San Juan serve to promote our historical relevance. A final thanks to all the bracero along both sides of our border and to all the migrant farmworkers across the Rio Grande Valley and beyond. Without you we do not have the substance to feed our families. It is our optimistic hope that this mural honors the work that you do.
Final pictures of the completed mural.