Local artists and youth unveiled a 22-foot-tall mural Friday at the MAAC Community Charter School in Chula Vista that honors Indigenous land and what it meant to native people before the establishment of the US-Mexico border wall.
“It touches my heart to see this,” said Stanley Ralph Rodriguez of the Santa Ysabel Band of the Iipay Nation and Principal of Kumeyaay Community College. “Our people are on both sides of the border. There are 12 Kumeyaay reservations here in San Diego, another 46 in Baja, California.
The 22-by-22-foot mural was painted on an exterior wall of the school facing Quintard Street. It depicts an Indigenous man and woman dancing on Indigenous land as the sun sets behind a mountain range. Between the couple is a large serpent, which in Kumeyaay culture represents knowledge, Rodriguez said.
With the help of MAAC students and Kumeyaay tribe elders, artists Hector Villegas and Gabriel Romo completed the large artwork in two weeks. Villegas is a first-generation Chicano with native Cora and Huichol roots, owner of Logan Heights-based Galeria 1904 and Mexikota Art Studio. He has three murals in Chicano Park. Based in Sacramento, Romo draws on pre-Hispanic concepts and other indigenous and spiritual traditions from his northern Mexican lineage. His name is “Hermano”, which means brother in Spanish.
“One of the things I would like to say about this project that I’m really grateful for is that we don’t recognize enough of the natives of this land here in this county and this is a beautiful mural that done,” Villegas said.
Tommy Ramirez, principal of MAAC Community Charter School, said in a statement that the MAAC program teaches students “how to enhance our community while honoring our roots, our families, and ourselves. We are honored to work with the elders of Kumeyaay and these two artists who have such a deep connection to the pre-Columbian roots of the land and the frontier life of the community.
California’s Blue Shield provided $17,000 to help provide supplies and funds for muralists, MAAC officials said.