Chicano Mural Will Be Saved, But Where?
by: Pat Hernandez, December 19, 2011 5:12:00 pm
The mural created in 1973 by the Mexican-American Youth Organization is located on a wall in the basement of the University Center.
Maria Jimenez is a UH alum. She remembers the mural when it was being painted, in the part of the center where Mexican Americans often congregated. She says at the time they numbered 400 out of a total enrollment of 29,000 students.
"The Mexican-American Youth Organization was an active organization at the time, and its members wanted to preserve the history of the Chicano movement, but also wanted to be able to designate what had become home for us. The section had become our home, given that we were probably 99-percent of us, first generation college-goers."
Gloria Rubac is a retired educator and had already graduated from college. But she was very much involved in student activism and had helped paint part of the mural.
"It was extremely important at that time, because the Chicano movement was developing, and people were learning who Chicanos were. And now we have this gorgeous piece of history that talks about the struggle, the fight, the racism that was fought."
But the mural has become the center of attention with a planned renovation of the University Center.
This is graduate Hector Chavana:
"We want to send a clear message: Number one, we don't want the mural destroyed, we want it preserved. Number two, we really don't want it moved at all, because we fell that there's a possibility it could be damaged. And number three, we want it to take a more prominent role here at the University Center and in student life in general."
University spokesman Richard Bonnin says part of a comprehensive renovation and expansion of the University Center, which was approved in a student referendum, includes preserving existing artworks, like the Chicano mural.
"Absolutely, that's one of the reasons why we hired the art conservator. We are dedicated and committed to preserving not just this piece of artwork, but all of the artwork at the University that we consider to be a significant part of our history."
He says the conservator found the mural to be painted on canvas. That will allow it to be removed, cleaned, restored and mounted. Whether it remains at its current location...
"That is still being reviewed. We want to put it in a very prominent area. This particular location as of now, is badly in disrepair."
He says the mural could find a new home in another part of the campus, or it could remain in its present location once the renovation is done.