"En Transicion"... a mural dedicated to Latino youth
En Transicion... a mural dedicated to Latino
The mural, En Transicion..., is a message a/hope and belie/that Latino
children, and all children, have the inherent right to see their own
beauty and human dignity.
This mural speaks of the challenges Latino youth face, while also representing
the lessons of strength, perseverance and love given by their own Latino
Artists Leo Tanguma, Leticia Tanguma, Valerie Wolny and Frank Garza
guided twenty-seven 6th and ih grade students from the Beacons Program
at Rishel Middle School to paint a mural commissioned for the Mayor's
Summit on Latino Academic Achievement.
The voice of Latino students...
The artistsasked the Latino students to paint about the pressures
they face in school, especially about negative peer pressure. When each
of the youth sketched their thoughts, the entire group discussed why
these pressures were unhealthy, dangerous and unjust. The students discussed
how all ofthese pressures impact their education - how it is a challenge
to do their best in school despite the problems surrounding them.
The students painted images on small panels that depict the pressures
of smoking, drugs and alcohol. Others painted gangs and weapons. They
painted poverty, parental negligence, sneaking out at night and even
globalization. Students painted children being targets of racism and
pressure to be racist toward others. They chose the symbols of the Nazi
Swastika and the hood ofthe Ku Klux Klan to represent how racist attitudes
still impact children and youth. In that panel, children are scared and
confused as they are shown the evilness of racism. The youth wanted to
say that they should not be targets of racism nor be pressured to be
racist. Other students painted worries ofteen pregnancy and of being
sexually harassed in school. Some images capture how children and youth
are witnesses and victims of sexual abuse.
On one of the two large panels adjacent to the center diamond-shaped
panel is the depiction of a girl entangled in two flags, that of Mexico
and Iraq. She is trying to tear the flags apart because ofthe racism
that has been instilled in her. But as she grows and sees the humanity
in each ofthese peoples, her attitude and heart are transformed to
that of compassion. Now she is reaching for ajust world.
On the opposite panel is a Latino student, who as a gang
member, hurts his own community. As he grows to understand the root causes
of oppression, racism and poverty, he is transformed from being a destroyer
into being someone who actively participates in working for the rights
of his or her community.
Connecting the young people are banners that read, "strive and achieve
dignidad, (dignity), respect, integrity and paz (peace)."
Breaking the chains...
The mural's center diamond shape portrays a Latina youth
whose mind and spirit have been chained. How do we break these chains
of injustice? To symbolize breaking the chains, the team decided to paint
images of peers encouraging education, friendship, science, music, art
and graduation. Two boys are carrying a peace dove flying from a red
banner that represents the sacrifice of their family and ancestors struggling
for civil rights. Two girls are holding the scales of justice and the
declaration of the rights of a child as they pull away the ropes of inequality
The highest part of the mural depicts a Quetzal bird flying
with two doves. There is a legend from Latin America that says a Quetzal
cannot live in captivity. The Quetzal, representing the human spirit,
is liberated when the chains of oppression are broken.
Please send comments about the mural to Leticia Tanguma at
Letimariposa@yahoo.com. She can forward any messages to Beacons students
at Rishel Middle School. Opportunities for the mural to travel to schools
are being considered. Contact Maxine Quintana in the Mayor's Office
for Education and Children (720.913.0905 or QuintanaM@ci.denver.co.us)
for more information.