Famous artist’s mural remains buried at Yucatan art school

The mural space belongs to all students, ESAY leader says; others feel an important mural is being suppressed

A false wall has covered a mural at the state art school since 2011. Photos: Por Esto!
A false wall has covered a mural at the state art school since 2011. Photos: Por Esto!

Merida, Yucatan — The powers that be at the Higher School of Arts of Yucatan (ESAY) covered up a prominent artist’s colorful mural in 2011.

The monumental “Cenote de Sueños” by Juana Alicia now has friends in high places, asking the school to remove the false wall that was bolted over it.

Alicia taught workshops at the Escuela Superior de Arte on the subject of Chicano Mural History, Design and Technique. The mural was the culmination of the program in 2006.

The U.S.-born internationally renowned artist has demanded that the mural be unconcealed.

But ESAY Director Javier Álvarez Fuentes issued a press release stating the mural must be kept safe for future generations, but remained covered.

The work was meant to be temporary and the wall must be available to other artists and perspectives, he said.

“This program in no way negates the talent and career of the muralist Juana Alicia Montoya, creator of ‘Cenote de Sueños,’ the first mural that occupied the space and that served to account for the usefulness of the project we carried out, as well as to value the academic collaboration of our students with other artists and the link with other institutions dedicated to promoting art. Hence, at the time, special care was taken to keep the piece intact and keep a record of it so that other generations know its origin and the genesis of the project,” he said.

However, he said that ESAY’s mission is to “train artists, professors and researchers in the field of art in a contemporary university context and related disciplines,” coupled with the need to have mural spaces where our students can put their talent into practice.

In other words, so no single artist gets to bogart the wall. It must be shared, he said.

Some high-level state government officials disagree, feeling it’s a pity to hide an important and impressive work.

There are a number of other spaces for ESAY students to demonstrate their talent, Por Esto! reported. The tabloid’s reporter did not name the specific state officials calling for the restoration of the mural, but ply a “no comment” from Saúl Villa Walls, the current director of Projects and Evaluation of the Ministry of Culture and the Arts (Sedeculta).

Alicia, now in her 60s, is a muralist, printmaker, educator, activist and painter. An educator for 40 years, Alicia is a faculty member at Berkeley City College and founder of the True Colors Public Art program. Her sculptures and murals are principally located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Nicaragua, Mexico, Pennsylvania and in many parts of California.

Recruited by Cesar Chavez to join the United Farm Workers movement during the early 1970s, Alicia moved to Salinas, Calif., where she worked in the fields. In the early 1980s she moved to San Francisco’s Mission District where she began to display her work.

Sources: Por Esto, Wikipedia, El Tecolote

Yucatán Magazine

Yucatán Magazine is a news and information source for people who love it here. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.