Chicano Legacy 40 Años Mosaic Unveiled
Christine Clark | May 31, 2011
Artist Mario Torero and UC San Diego professor Jorge Mariscal.
It depicts the struggles and dreams of underrepresented communities, pays tribute to social justice and brings a sense of warmth and hope to UC San Diego––the Chicano Legacy 40 Años mural is now a permanent artwork on campus after two years of perseverance from university students, staff and faculty.
The 17-by-54-foot mural, made up of thousands of pieces of colored glass, features a rainbow of vibrant colors and iconic figures such as Dolores Huerta and César Chávez. In addition, the vivid mosaic includes imagery of San Diego landmarks including the Coronado Bridge and Chicano Park.
Students, staff and faculty rejoiced at the official unveiling of the new artwork Wednesday afternoon. The event featured remarks from Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Suresh Subramani; Thurgood Marshall College Provost Allan Havis; professor of literature Jorge Mariscal; Vice Chancellor for Resource Management Gary Matthews; world-renowned, San Diego-based artist and mural creator Mario Torero, students from UC San Diego’s Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), the Black Student Union (BSU), and others.
“This is truly a celebration,” said Havis. “This is not a temporary art piece that will be auctioned off…This is art for the people.”
The 17-by-54-foot mosaic was constructed with thousands of pieces of colored glass.
The original mural hung on the side of Peterson Hall for two years. The artwork was made into a permanent mosaic as part of the agreements signed March 4, 2010, to enhance campus climate and ensure diversity at UC San Diego.
The art project was envisioned by MEChA students several years ago as a way to express Latino/a culture, and then brought to fruition by Torero. He 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 here because the students wanted it,” said Mariscal, a driving force behind the Chicano Legacy 40 Años project from start to finish. Mariscal said there were hurdles to making the giant mural a permanent fixture at UC San Diego, but he thanked Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and Matthews for their support of the project.
“The Chancellor said if you can get it done, then go ahead,” Mariscal said.
Matthews spoke after Mariscal and, in turn, thanked the professor for his perseverance on the project. “It’s Mariscal’s energy that made this happen,” Matthews said. “This is a great honor to Chicano culture and the contributions Chicanos have made to this campus. This is for them and for their children who will go here.”
Students help finish assembly of the mosaic.
Following Matthews’ speech, Mariscal called students to the front to plant corn in the landscape surrounding the mural, as symbol of community building.
Mariscal introduced Torero, a long-time friend and collaborator. “When I approached Mario, he said this has to be a mosaic,” Mariscal said. “Paint will fade, but a mosaic will be permanent.”
Torero, who has created murals for Chicano Park, said the mural was constructed with state-of-the-art technology that will even outlast the building it hangs on. “We hope this opens up a relationship for the murals in Chicano Park to also be made permanent,” he said. “The Chicano Legacy mural’s energy enlightens this entire campus and it will for generations to come.”